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The Truth Commissioner

David Park's novel "The Truth Commissioner" could have been a bland Orwellian satire, in which matters of justice and retribution are taken out of the hands of soldiers and victims and become the work of robotic bureaucrats. Instead, Park has taken a fascinating premise - the creation of a truth commission to bring closure to the people of Northern Ireland - and has chosen to focus less on the closure and more on the people. This is the right choice, as he proves in "The Truth Commissioner," an engrossing read which tells us more about the personal, rather than political, cost of The Troubles. At the center of Park's novel is a teenaged Catholic boy who disappeared from the North over a decade ago. This development links two ex-IRA men and the Englishman (with some Irish roots) who is presiding over the North's Truth Commission. Of particular interest is the former IRA soldier who is drawn back into the Troubles after he has relocated to Florida, where all he wants to do is marry his pregnant girlfriend. Park pulls off a very difficult achievement with this novel. He offers something fresh, new and interesting about the Troubles. ($25.95 / 372 pages / Bloomsbury)

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