Eneas McNulty grows into a young man of tender though eternally puzzled disposition: one who cannot fathom the meaning of 'nation,' only of 'home.' After the end of the First World War, he finds there is little work to be had for a Sligoman in depressed times. For want of something better, he joins the British-led police force, the Royal Irish Constabulary -- a catastrophic decision when all around him men are becoming another kind of soldier, sanguinary, intent on winning freedom from 800 years of English oppression. To men such as these, Eneas is a traitor, and he becomes helplessly caught up in the murderous web of reprisals. And so begin his troubles: Shunned and threatened by his childhood friend Jonno Lynch, now one of the IRA's enforcers, he is forced to flee his beloved home by the men in dark coats who have placed him under sentence of death. Through peacetime and wartime, loneliness and friendship, he is ever unable to reclaim his stolen life, yet persists through his vicissitudes with a strange grace. At the close of day he heads for the last haven of sailors and wanderers, the Isle of Dogs, and a life time of loss is redeemed by a last generous sacrifice.
...a wonderfully strange book by a fine writertoo ambitious, perhaps, at times too portentous about history and Ireland, but in these times ambition is too rare to require apology.