The Abstainer: A Novel (Hardcover)
The Players: James O’Connor, an Irish Constable tasked with quelling the Fenian rebellion who's constantly struggling to stay ahead of his mistakes. Stephen Doyle, a veteran of the American Civil War hired to sow fear among the Fenian’s enemies. Michael Sullivan, O’Connor’s newly arrived nephew with a knack for stumbling into trouble.
With the pieces set for a thrilling game of cat and mouse, this historical noir (played out mostly under the gray fog of 19th Century Manchester) absorbed me so completely, I half expected to see soot on my fingers by the time I managed to put it down.— Todd
“A brilliant historical novel; part Cormac McCarthy and part Raymond Chandler.”—Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
An Irishman in nineteenth-century England is forced to take sides when his nephew joins the bloody underground movement for independence in this propulsive novel from the acclaimed author of The North Water.
Manchester, England, 1867. The rebels will be hanged at dawn, and their brotherhood is already plotting its revenge.
Stephen Doyle, an Irish-American veteran of the Civil War, arrives in Manchester from New York with a thirst for blood. He has joined the Fenians, a secret society intent on ending British rule in Ireland by any means necessary. Head Constable James O’Connor has fled grief and drink in Dublin for a sober start in Manchester. His job is to discover and thwart the Fenians’ plans whatever they might be. When a long-lost nephew arrives on O’Connor’s doorstep looking for work, he cannot foresee the way his fragile new life will be imperiled—and how his and Doyle’s fates will become fatally intertwined.
In this propulsive tale of the underground war for Irish independence, the author of The North Water once again transports readers to a time when blood begot blood. Moving from the dirt and uproar of industrial Manchester to the quiet hills of rural Pennsylvania, The Abstainer is a searing novel in which two men, haunted by their pasts and driven forward by the need for justice and retribution, must fight for life and legacy.
About the Author
Ian McGuire is the author of The North Water and Incredible Bodies. He is a winner of the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award and Historical Writer’s Association Gold Crown Award. He lives in Manchester, England, where he teaches at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing.
“The Abstainer tells a story of people trapped by class, a simmering revolution, and their own frailty, but it’s ultimately a very human and compelling novel that gives us a clear glimpse into the hearts and souls of its characters. McGuire is a writer who isn’t afraid to take risks and change course from his previous books.”—Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
“McGuire has crafted a riveting tale of violence and retribution against the backdrop of the 1860s Fenian rebellion—precursor to the Troubles and one of those rich historical incidents you learn about and wonder, Why didn’t I know about this before? He has a keen sense of how to mix precise local details with transcendent global themes.”—Michael Punke, author of The Revenant
“The Abstainer is truly terrific—a can’t-put-down book. It’s nothing less than a tight and spare and suspense-filled noir novel, masterfully set in 1860s Britain and America. And like all superb historical novels, it seems as modern and as contemporary as this morning.”—Richard Ford