CrimeSay Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe


Last year I read — and loved — Empire of Pain by @praddenkeefe. In fact, I was so blown away by it, I named it my favourite non-fiction book of 2021. I wouldn’t stop banging on about it and Chaya took the bait and bought me this one by the same author for my birthday. I’d been meaning to read it for a while but my husband nabbed it first and described it as utter brilliance. I have to say, he’s absolutely right.

I’m going to be honest with you though; whilst I started this at the end of last week, I haven’t yet finished. But when you know, you know, right?! And oh my days, I KNOW. As someone who read history at uni, The Troubles was a topic that I rather shamefacedly shied away from. I took my studies as far away from home as I geographically could but I think I always felt that as a subject matter, this one was hugely, hugely complex. Too complex, perhaps.

Indeed, in some ways, I was right but in this book, Radden Keefe brings to life this fervent, tense and frightening time in a way that is both compelling and supremely readable. 

By using the story of 37 year old Jean McConville’s abduction as a prism through which to explore the wider climate in Northern Ireland and the Republic at the time, he gives us a book that is part history, part politics and part true crime. 

From the Divis flats complex where Jean was taken from her ten children, the hunger strikes of the Price sisters, through to Gerry Adams’ quest for political power and the Good Friday agreement, this is by no means an easy read. Indeed, at times, it is absolutely harrowing and enough to stop you in your tracks. But it has opened my eyes and educated me on a topic that, deep down, I think I’ve always wanted to know more about — I just didn’t know where to begin. And, for that reason, there’s a part of me that actually doesn’t want it to end at all. A hugely important book, it’s one we can all learn profoundly from.

~ Sophie

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