Pray for Us Sinners

Written by Patrick Taylor
Review by Audrey Braver

In 1973, during the Troubles in Belfast, a British army officer, Marcus Richardson, who is a bomb disposal expert, goes undercover to infiltrate the militant Provos (Provisional IRA). Marcus, a native of Ulster, easily adopts the persona of Michael Roberts, an explosives expert, who wants to join the Provos. His cover: he has been working in Canada for a mining company. After many nights of drinking in local pubs, Marcus/Michael finally meets and befriends men who can put him in touch with the Provo bosses. Once accepted by these men, Marcus/Michael begins to understand each side’s point of view, especially, when he meets Davy McCutcheon, the Provo bomb expert. Davy is complicated. His devotion to the “cause” is somewhat skewed. He makes bombs to make amends for two accidental deaths caused by his bombs.

Although it is hard to favor either the British or the Provos, Taylor has written a compelling story. Tension grows as it moves from one side of the conflict to another. What is clearly brought home to the reader is the suffering and hardships this conflict brings to the civilian population.