There Will Be Fire

There Will Be Fire by Rory Carroll

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for There Will Be Fire:

They didn’t get lucky even once.

Quick synopsis:

The story of the near miss assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher by the Irish Republican Army in 1984.

Fact for Non-History People:

The tagline refers to the message from the IRA after the bombing: “Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always. Give Ireland peace and there will be no more war.”

Fact for History Nerds:

The Great Famine, the failure of the potato crop in the 1840s, led to 1 million Irish deaths and 1 million emigrants. England limited food aid during this time.

My Take on There Will Be Fire:

If you want to truly test yourself as an author, an excellent prompt is, “Try to write a book about the Troubles without taking a side.” Rory Carroll’s There Will Be Fire is proof that it can be done and done very well at that.

The book follows the story of the Brighton bombing in England in 1984. The bombing was executed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in their campaign to unite all of Ireland and very nearly killed Margaret Thatcher. Most of the book follows the bomber and then the police attempts to identify and arrest him. This is the very short version of an extremely long story.

The Troubles of Northern Ireland are a quagmire of politics, grudges, and justice (or lack thereof). Carroll makes it clear his book will not tackle everything about the IRA and the Troubles. He also states he is not biased. While I think I can decipher precisely what he thinks if we were sharing a few drinks, it does not in any way hinder the narrative of the book. Carroll explains the finer points someone needs to know but sticks to the story of the bomber and the subsequent pursuit. It is one of the few times where saying a piece of history, “reads like a novel,” is 100% earned.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Penguin Group Putnam.)


An amazing book. Read it! Buy it here!

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4 responses to “There Will Be Fire by Rory Carroll”

  1. MCKT Avatar

    Best article today! Good job 🙂

    1. Brendan Dowd Avatar
      Brendan Dowd

      Thank you, friend!

  2. Barb K. Avatar
    Barb K.

    This book puts me in mind of two excellent books on tangential subjects: Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keene, and Adrian McKinty’s novel, In the Morning I’ll Be. Gone, which features this incident in its climax. If only I had all day to do nothing but read!

    1. Brendan Dowd Avatar

      Hey Barb, yes, it drives me nuts that I have to do other things than just read. It’s so very inconvenient. And I completely agree on Say Nothing. It’s one of the best books I have read. Thanks for commenting!

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