Cover art for The Abstainer
24% off!
Scribner, September 2020
Softcover, 368 pages
23.4cm × 15.3cm × 2.3cm

The Abstainer

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A man hanging on by a thread. A city about to snap. From the acclaimed author of The North Water comes an epic story of revenge and obsession. Manchester, 1867 Two men, haunted by their pasts. Driven by the need for justice. Blood begets blood. In a fight for life and legacy.

Stephen Doyle arrives in Manchester from New York. He is an Irish-American veteran of the Civil War and a member of the Fenians, a secret society intent on ending British rule in Ireland, by any means necessary. Now he has come to seek vengeance. James O'Connor has fled grief and drink in Dublin for a sober start in Manchester as Head Constable. His mission is to discover and thwart the Fenians' plans. When his long-lost nephew arrives on his doorstep, he never could have foreseen how this would imperil his fragile new life - or how his and Doyle's fates would come to be intertwined. The rebels will be hanged at dawn, and their brotherhood is already plotting revenge. The Abstainer is truly terrific - a can't-put-down book. It's no less than a tight 'n spare 'n 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 Praise for The North Water, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 Brilliant, fast-paced, gripping. A tour de force of narrative tension and a masterful reconstruction of a lost world' Hilary Mantel Utterly convincing and compelling A startling achievement' Martin Amis Riveting and darkly brilliant McGuire has an extraordinary talent' Colm Toibin Has exceptional power and energy' Sunday Times A stunning novel that snares the reader from the outset and keeps the tightest grip until the bitter end' Financial Times A vivid read, full of twists, turns, period detail and strong characters' The Times Terrific - McGuire's use of the pitiless, fearsomely beautiful Arctic landscape as a theatre for enduring questions is inspired' Daily Mail McGuire has a sure and unwavering touch a writer of exceptional craft and confidence' Irish Times

Recommended by Bill

Bill is the Buyer for Boffins, so blame him when you don’t find the book you want. He reads widely, particularly non-fiction, and reviews books monthly on Wednesdays with Gareth Parker on radio station 6PR.

I loved this book, it had me hooked and I couldn’t leave my chair! I loved the writing, how McGuire creates tension and how he slowly unpeels his characters so that they become quite rounded by the end. The atmosphere of the book was perfect. The ending was a surprise, and not what I wanted, but of course so likely. I couldn’t fault the history, although I had to check out the carriages to see if it was all correct (I remember a novel that had a hansom cab in it 30 years before they were invented!). Bottom line: fabulous!

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