RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt’s great fun ... It swerves from comedy to the darker stuff with ease and elegance. It is far from a funny book, but Dickens is there in the language, the coincidences, the unrolling of the story. The grandiosity and ineptitude of the cops and of the Fenians reminded me of Conrad’s The Secret Agent ... The dialogue throughout the novel is terrific; it seems like the genuine article whether it comes from an Irish, English or American mouth. McGuire is overfond of similes; there are far too many \'likes\' in the novel. But often they are great ... there was very little I didn’t like and admire about The Abstainer. The conclusion seems inevitable, somehow even more so when it turned out not to be the one I’d been anticipating ... This is Dickens in the present tense, Dickens for the 21st century.
Patrick Radden Keefe
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"If it seems as if I’m reviewing a novel, it is because Say Nothing has lots of the qualities of good fiction, to the extent that I’m worried I’ll give too much away, and I’ll also forget that Jean McConville was a real person, as were — are — her children ... Keefe is a terrific storyteller. It might seem odd, even offensive, to state it, but he brings his characters to real life. The book is cleverly structured ... Its closeness to the novel is a strength of Say Nothing and — I’m tempted to write — \'also a weakness.\' But actually, it’s not a weakness, and only rarely a distraction ... [Keefe\'s] description of Dolours Price, a member of the I.R.A., in jail, on a hunger strike, being force-fed through a thin length of rubber hose, is vivid and quite rightly shocking ... What Keefe captures best, though, is the tragedy, the damage and waste, and the idea of moral injury ... The last section of the book, the tricky part of the story, life after violence, after the end, the unfinished business, the disappeared and the refusal of Jean McConville’s children to forget about her — I wondered as I read if Keefe was going to carry it off. He does. He deals very well with the war’s strange ending, the victory that wasn’t ... Say Nothing is an excellent account of the Troubles; it might also be a warning.\