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Thursday, 31 August 2017

‘Woman of State’ by Simon Berthon

Published by HarperCollins,
13 July 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-00821436-4 (HB).
ISBN: 978-0-00821437-1 (TPB).
ISBN: 978-0-00821438—8 (EB).

1991 Belfast and the IRA wants to deal with an undercover British police officer. Joseph Kennedy, a rising star of the movement, recruits his teenage girlfriend Maire Anne McCartney as a honey trap. She is told it is a simple job to entrap him and there would be no violence. She is lied to. To save herself she has to flee across the border and change her identity.

Present Day London and human rights lawyer Anne-Marie Gallagher is elected as an MP and is given the job of Minister of State for Security and Immigration.

As Anne-Marie takes up the post, police in Belfast receive an anonymous call with a password from the Troubles that is soon verified. The call leads DCI Jon Carne to a field in Northern Ireland and a body.

When the new minister gets a message from her old boyfriend Joseph Kennedy, she realises that all she has worked for could come crashing down around her. And when Carne’s investigation brings Anne-Marie to his attention, she must decide where her allegiances lie.

Simon Berthon is an award-winning investigative film-maker who spent many years in Northern Ireland, and this gives Woman of State authenticity and originality. We know we are in safe hands with this intelligent and layered thriller. Corruption and deception run all the way through its twists and turns as we follow Maire Anne McCartney’s journey from 1990s Belfast and Dublin to London in the present.

The plot is multi-faceted and unfolds at a breathless pace, but it is the character of Maire that holds the novel together. She is intriguing - both in her naïve teenage years and in adulthood. It is through her eyes that we see and feel the themes of love and betrayal. We are there at the death of her idealism, and we feel her pain when she is betrayed time and again. I thought the path she chose at the end of the book was perfect for the story.

If you enjoy a really well-written, well-plotted political thriller, then look no further than Woman of State.
Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley

Simon Berthon has spent much of his working life delving into the secrets of state. He is an award winning and highly acclaimed investigative film-maker whose scoops include a number of stories set in Ireland.

Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing psychological suspense, drawing on her experiences in journalism. The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads. Her second book, After She Fell, also published by Killer Reads in April 2016.  To read the review of Killer reads click here

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