Book review – Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Caidyn's review (1)

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland


CW: death, kidnapping, anorexia, starvation, forced feeding, alcoholism, and drug use

Right as I finished this book, my first thought was: “What a shame that the murder got lost in this book.” There was lots of murder, but the murder that this book was supposedly about got lost in the story. Lost as Jean McConville was in reality.

This book is a fine book. I learned a whole hell of a lot. See, I was born around the time that The Troubles ended. I also wasn’t born to an Irish Catholic family, so I didn’t carry that legacy of oppression in my veins. So, I never was exposed to this. For a few years now, I’ve been aware of the tensions between Ireland and Britain, but I wasn’t so aware of everything that happened.

If you want a book where you find out about that insanity, this is the book for you.

It was absolutely crazy for me to read because I had no idea that this happened in recent history. Irish Protestants and Catholics feuding in Northern Ireland because of the oppression that the Protestants put onto the Catholics. And then, when the Catholics fought back to gain equality and equity, the Protestants pushed back. Then the British military came in.

And shit hit the fan.

I’ve never read about domestic terrorism but, God, this book had it all. It was, honestly, insane. I cannot stress that enough. The things that each side did under the guise of being right and just blew my mind. Even more so since this whole war — and it was a war — ended when I was about two.

In the midst of all this, there was a woman who went missing. Jean McConville. She had ten children and her husband passed away from cancer. That left her a widow. And, even worse, she was branded a sympathizer to the British. One day, she disappeared. She was never seen or heard from again until her bones were found three decades later. That’s a sad story by itself.

The only problem is that the book focuses so much on the IRA (Irish Republican Army; i.e. Catholic militants) that she’s literally barely mentioned. I had to constantly look to remember her name. However, the book really makes it seem like this book is about finding her.


It’s all about talking about The Troubles and things that happened. The McConville’s story is a footnote. The description basically gives a full summary of what you need to know about the case since it doesn’t elaborate much. You get more information, but it’s barely mentioned and I felt the whole time as if you could remove it completely and not miss anything.

Which is horrible to say, isn’t it? The poor woman died in 1972 after likely being tortured for information, was buried in an unmarked grave, and wasn’t found until 2003. Even now, it’s unlikely that those who killed her will come to trial because one is now a famous politician in Ireland. Yet, she was gone and forgotten.

It was a good book. Don’t get me wrong. I learned a whole lot about Ireland and The Troubles. It makes me want to go and read more just because I found the topic so fascinating. However, I wish the book had integrated more of McConville’s murder and the years of looking for her into the story. It just got lost.

Talk to me!
Have you read this? What are your thoughts?
Do you know any good books about The Troubles?

One thought on “Book review – Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

  1. Pingback: March Wrap-up – BW Reviews

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