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    I wanted the book to read like a thriller, but to be something more, I didn't want to do a whole
    book about Northern Ireland, but I did want to talk about how often ordinary people are taken as
    hostages, their homes invaded - and the moral choices they're forced to make. I go back to Ireland
    often and no one ever talks about the hostages.  We're in a position now where any of us could be
    hostages and that can create the dilemma of loyalty to family versus saving the lives of others.
           -Brian Moore, NY Times Interview

When Michael Dillon's mistress is offered a job in London, he is finally forced into a series of difficult decisions : to leave his insecure, bulimic wife; to request a transfer from his Belfast hotel manager's job; to finally flee an Ireland which he loathes.  But, that night, after he has been unable to confront his wife with his decision, IRA gunmen break into their home.  They hold her hostage and demand that he park his explosives laden car opposite a dining room in the hotel where a prominent Ulster Unionist clergyman will be speaking.  Dillon finds himself on the horns of an appalling moral dilemma : do as the terrorists say and blow up dozens of friends, coworkers and other innocents; or alert the police and risk getting his unloved wife killed.  His eventual choice sets in motion a chain of events which will require subsequent, intertwining moral choices and which can not end happily.

In a century which gave us a near infinitude of horrifying statements and sentiments, I've always found the following, from E. M. Forster, to be the most disturbing :

    If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the
    guts to betray my country.

The monstrous selfishness of this remark, gussied up in the guise of loyalty, is a fitting epitaph for an era that lionized the Hollywood Ten and vilified Linda Tripp.  All too few authors and other intellectuals were willing to seriously question the full implications of such an attitude; Brian Moore is the exception.  Combining elements of everything from The Desperate Hours to The Informer to The Heart of the Matter, Moore explores a series of moral questions, and manages to do so in the midst of a compulsively readable thriller.

One of the most insipid canards going, accepted even by conservatives who should know better, is that the Left produces all of the great literature.  As we look back on the 20th Century, it seems increasingly evident that it is the small group of writers on the Right, many of them Catholic, who actually produced the Century's most important and enduring body of work, among them : T. S. Eliot; George Orwell; Evelyn Waugh; J.R.R. Tolkein; C. S. Lewis; Flannery O'Connor; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; Andre Dubus; Frederick Buechner; Tom Wolfe; and Brian Moore.  (Even Graham Greene, who--when both were alive--referred to Moore as his "favorite living writer," was at his unintentional best in books like Heart of the Matter and End of the Affair, where he did not even realize that he was writing from a conservative viewpoint.)  If you've never read anything by Brian Moore, truly one of the most underrated and unread great authors of recent years, Lies of Silence is as good a place to start as any.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Brian Moore (3 books reviewed)
General Literature
Brian Moore Links:

    -APPRECIATION: Belfast’s best-kept secret: John Self welcomes the reissue of three works by Brian Moore, one of Northern Ireland’s few novelists who can stand toe-to-toe with the contemporary greats (John Self, September 2021, The Critic)
    -ESSAY: Brian Moore’s hotels: Time to revisit this neglected author in his centenary year: This Irish writer excelled at portrayals of women dissatisfied with marriage and domestic life (Sinéad Moynihan, 1/12/21, Irish Times)

Book-related and General Links:
    -ESSAY:  Going Home (Brian Moore, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Captain and The Enemy by Graham Greene,  FATHER LOST ME IN A BACKGAMMON GAME (Brian Moore, NY Times Book Review)
(Brian Moore, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of FLANNERY O'CONNOR Collected Works, MAKING A CASE FOR DISTORTION  (Brian Moore, NY Times Book Review)
    -Interview (from the Australian)
    -ARCHIVES : "Brian Moore" (NY Review of Books)
    -Brian Moore--Biography (Local Ireland)
    -Brian Moore (1921- )(Well Known Canadians)
    -Canadian Literary Archives - Brian Moore (Special Collections, University of Calgary Library)
    -EducETH: Brian Moore
    -FILMOGRAPHY : Brian Moore (imdb)
    -OBIT : Brian Moore, Prolific Novelist on Diverse Themes, Dies at 77 (DINITIA SMITH, NY Times)
    -OBITUARY : Author Brian Moore defied definition : The Irish-born novelist spent his last 30 years living in California but probably came closest to finding a sense of home in Canada. (Tuesday, January 12, 1999, VAL ROSS, Globe and Mail)
    -MEMORIAL : Brian Moore: A writer who never failed to surprise his readers (Robert Fulford, Globe and Mail, January 12, 1999)
    -PROFILE : An Irishman in Malibu  (Tom Christie, LA Weekly)
    -OBITUARY : Brian Moore, 1921-1999 (Tom Christie, LA Weekly)
    -ESSAY : Brian Moore, 1921-99: Cool prose craftsman (Socialism Today)
    -FEATURED AUTHOR : Brian Moore (Read Ireland)
    -Brian Moore: Travels of a Literary Infidel (John Blades, Publishers Weekly)
    -BOOK GROUP GUIDE : The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore
    -READER'S GUIDE : Lies of Silence (College Net)
    -REVIEW : of Lies of Silence by Brian Moore (Francine Prose, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore  (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore  (Thomas Mallon, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore (Brian St. Pierre, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW : Gabriele Annan: The Mahdi's Bullet, NY Review of Books
               The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore
    -REVIEW: THE STATEMENT By Brian Moore (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: THE STATEMENT By Brian Moore (Eugen Weber, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Catholics and Fascists  ( J. Bottum, Catholic Crisis Online)
    -REVIEW: of The Statement by Brian Moore (John Wilson, First Things)
    -REVIEW: Bygones?  The Statement   by Brian Moore (Roger Kaplan, Commentary)
    -REVIEW: (Mystery Guide)
    -REVIEW: Moral fable makes a 'Statement' about war crimes and 'justice' (David Walton, Detroit News)
    -REVIEW : of The Statement (Book Page)
    -REVIEW : John Gross: Marked Man, NY Review of Books
               The Statement by Brian Moore
               Memory, the Holocaust, and French Justice  edited by  Richard J. Golsan
    -Review of Black Robe (NY Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt)
    -REVIEW : of Black Robe by Brian Moore (NY Times, James Carroll)
    -REVIEW: of Cold Heaven, A SPIRITUAL QUID PRO QUO (Frances Taliaferro, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE TEMPTATION OF EILEEN HUGHES By Brian Moore (1981)(Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of THE COLOR OF BLOOD By Brian Moore (Clancy Sigal, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE COLOR OF BLOOD. By Brian Moore (John Gross, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of No Other Life By Brian Moore (1993)(Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of NO OTHER LIFE By Brian Moore (Henry Louis Gates Jr., NY Times Book Review)
    -BOOK LIST : 1990 Booker Prize Nominees : Lies of Silence
    -BOOK LIST : MODERN NOVELS; THE 99 BEST (Anthony Burgess, NY Times, 1984)