It is as gripping as a thriller, except that this isn’t fiction but cold, spine-tingling reality, with a worthy purpose running through it. This is Cobain’s route to find some understanding — even some closure — for us all in the morally bewildering underground war between Republicans and Unionists, with British Army soldiers caught in the middle, that split the benighted province for decades.
Throughout, his style is brisk and his tone level-headed, the violence he chronicles often evoked through spartan, but chillingly descriptive, detail. Of the aftermath of the IRA bombing of the La Mon hotel restaurant, which happened on 17 February 1978, just a few months before the murder of Millar McAllister, he writes: “Twelve people, including three married couples, died in the blast. All were Protestant. The dead were so badly burned and shrivelled by the flames that firemen thought initially that some of them were children.” Hell is in the details.