A Traitor in the Family by Nicholas Searle

Traitor in the familyFrancis O’Neill is a terrorist, trained to kill for his cause. Bridget is his wife, expected to be loyal and stand by her husband. She has learned not to hope for much more, until the day she glimpses, for the first time, the chance of a new life. A life without violence, without secrets, and without knocks on the door in the dead of night. A life without her husband.

But what if freedom for Bridget means grave danger for Francis?

A Traitor in the Family by Nicholas Searle begins as Francis prepares to commit a terrorist attack as his wife makes preparations for Christmas with the family. Francis is committed to the IRA which is working towards a United Ireland using violence as their campaign strategy. He is a man who follows orders and he strongly believes that he is doing the right thing despite the fact that his actions leave a trail of destruction. On the other hand, Bridget is hard to figure out at first. She is different. So demure that the union doesn’t make sense. She does support her husband although she doesn’t seem really happy with his actions or their marriage.

The story alternates between a number of POVs with the main narrators being Bridget and Francis.  It spans from 1989 to 2007 which each year representing a significant event. From the start, I liked Bridget and sympathized with her predicament. She was so nice and quiet. It just didn’t make sense how she ended up married to a terrorist. I couldn’t figure her out at first. Her shyness and feelings of loneliness made me feel sorry for her. Her background story was even more heartbreaking and so is the story of how she got married to Francis. Hers is a tale of unfilled dreams. There is no much background story to Francis on why and how he ended up in the cause. His narrations are more about his present actions which include a number of attacks. He is cold, methodical and highly committed to the IRA. His attitude towards Bridget was bordering towards indifference. I didn’t like this man.

The book is really fast-paced with so much going on. Francis and his men keep finding new targets. At each attack, I kept wondering if he would get caught. I read about his actions waiting for something to happen. On the other hand, something changes in Bridget and she decides to do something about her situation. Now this was nerve-wracking. As I had mentioned, Bridget is so quiet and submissive. I was so worried about her. The people that she was dealing with were ruthless. Nobody walked away from the IRA alive and through the pages; this was made clearer by the punishment meted out to suspected traitors. In addition, the British Intelligence was trying to infiltrate IRA at all costs. The tension heightened with each new chapter.

Betrayal and revenge are served in equal measure through the pages. I was nervous as the story progressed and the stakes got higher. When the twist finally occurred, the tension actually went even higher up to the final twist. The conflict resolution in the end was perfect. It’s the kind of ending that gets you cheering (slow-clap kind of cheering) for the MC. It was brilliant, brave and had the perfect effect on the other characters. If that wasn’t enough, another jaw-dropping reveal was made in the epilogue.

A Traitor in the Family by Nicholas Searle is a story about family, betrayal, revenge and blind allegiance. It is fast-paced and it had me turning pages until the wee hours or the morning. Its action packed and would be perfect for fans of crime thrillers.


    1. It almost seems like the narrator is very simply, but her husband is very action-driven. I’m not sure I would like such a big contrast in characters, especially if I don’t understand their backgrounds and motives.

      1. In this case, I think the contrast makes sense. The couple wasn’t always like that. They were once in love and living like normal folks. They had different personalities as I assume most couple do. The man gets radicalized and joins the cause but the wife doesn’t believe in the cause. They are the same people but their beliefs are different hence the reasons as to why their personalities seem so different now. I hope that makes sense.

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