The Journeyman Tailor is the third novel in what I call Seymour’s “Northern Ireland trilogy”. Time is running out for a highly placed IRA informer. The book deals with his MI5 “handler” Cathy Parker who will return in future books.
15 years after the book first came out I’ve finally got reading it again. In the meantime Northern Ireland has changed dramatically but the book brings us back to the bad-old-days and I’m reminded how little time has actually passed.
MI5 are running informers within the IRA. Some elements in the police and army would like MI5 off their “turf”. One of the most prized informers is Mossie Nugent. His handler, Cathy Parker, is using him to try to get IRA legend John Jo Donelly to return from his operations on the mainland.
The book asks if the end justifies the means. Along the way Parker and new recruit Bren have to make decisions that will protect her informer. At one point the finger of suspicion is deliberately shifted from Nugent to another. Later Parker sits on information that could stop a policeman from being killed.
The Journeyman tailor of the title comes from a story told to a young boy about a patriot and the men who betray him.
The policeman Rennie from Harry’s game and Field of Blood returns for a large supporting role.
Vintage Seymour. The thing that amazes me is that he’s still able to produce “vintage” books like this.