Four Shots in the Night

Four Shots in the Night by Henry Hemming

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Four Shots in the Night:

If you were lucky, you only got stitches.

Quick synopsis:

The story of a murder in Northern Ireland.   

Fact for Non-History People:

3,720 people were killed, while 47,571 were injured, and about 10,000 people were imprisoned during the Troubles.

Fact for History Nerds:

Almost 50% British military Veterans who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles have received counseling or psychotherapy.

My Take on Four Shots in the Night:

When I think of the word quagmire, I often associate it with the Troubles of Northern Ireland. Growing up in an Irish Catholic family, it is something I never personally experienced but heard a lot about. As complicated a subject as it was during my youth, it has become even more complex in a post-9/11 world.

Four Shots in the Night by Henry Hemming tries to reckon with the Troubles and the crimes committed during that terrible time. Specifically, he frames the story around the execution of British agent. What makes this crime so singular is that the execution might have been done by another British agent.

Let’s get this out of the way. If you are thinking of reading this book, you might have already read Patrick Radden Keefe’s amazing book Say Nothing. There are similarities. Both are set around an unsolved crime, both use a non-linear timeline to tell their story, both extensively dig into IRA leadership, and both are excellent. Hemming’s focus is more concentrated on the world of spies within the IRA and their British handlers.

One of the criticisms around Keefe’s book is that the disappearance mentioned in the synopsis ultimately takes up very little space in the overall narrative. It is true, but the Troubles require an extensive accounting of the sides everyone is on and why. Hemming hews much closer to the murder throughout the book, but, like Keefe, he has to take extensive detours to help the reader understand the lay of the land. Hemming is more succinct, but I think both authors do a brilliant job just in different ways.

If you loved Say Nothing, you will love this. If you didn’t read Say Nothing, you should still read this.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and PublicAffairs.)


An amazing read. Buy it here!

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