“I’m about to start a new book”
“Hmm” (translated as “Why are you telling me this?”)
“It’s by- listen, you do know this name- John Gordon Sinclair.”
So before I got to start reading we shared a few moments talking about Sinclair, the film Gregory’s Girl and oh, yes, Clare Grogan. A clip from the film was featured in the Olympics opening ceremony, and we had “aaahed” then also.
Who of my age from the British Isles doesn’t have a soft spot for John Gordon Sinclair? It’s as if we think he is actually gormless Gregory, and we want to will him on to good things. Yes, it seems I paid money to cheer on a fictional character from 1981.
It’s a crime novel. That’s good; I read lots of crime. I hope it’s not too bad.
Oh. Oh dear. It opens in Newry. It’s going to be about “The Troubles”. That’s not promising. It could be patronising/ glorifying violence or just 50 shades of wrong.
Apart from the necessities of life- sleeping, eating and watching Borgen- I didn’t put the book down. It was I who was wrong. There are a few clunky moments, but I was hooked.
It has assassins, spies, American gangsters, pretty girls, humour, cartoon violence, IRA men, underground warrens, army and policemen. Not for the first time, I considered what a gift the real life Freddie Scappaticci has been to fiction. Brotherhood and forgiveness- there’s a Butch and Sundance vibe going on. It has some of the most gross violence I’ve read. That was a surprise. Psychopathic violence to chill your bones. Keep me awake sort of violence.
Sinclair is working on a sort of follow up, and I’m hoping that some of the women (grieving mother, stoic widow, reluctantly caught up in the madness local girl, quite enjoying being caught up in the madness American barmaid), or Niamh, the child, get starring roles in that. Seventy Times Seven is about the legacy of violence in a society and a family; I’m curious about how Niamh turns out.
I’ll read it, without the Gregory background, without worrying about any galmourising of our patheic history. I’ll read it because Seventy Times Seven was a powerful read.