About the Book
At approximately 09.00hrs on the 15th June 1996, an unassuming white lorry was parked on Corporation Street in the city centre of Manchester, England; it contained over 3000 pounds of high explosive. At 11.15hrs the same day, Manchester witnessed the detonation of the largest device on the British mainland since the second World War … The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the attack. Based around actual events, LETTERBOX tells the story of Liam Connor, an ordinary boy brought up in Manchester by a seemingly ordinary family. He goes to the local school, loves football and has a best friend called Sean … an ordinary life! Unbeknown to Liam, his father, Michael Connor, harbors a dark historic secret, following a life a lot less ordinary … as a furtive, yet high-ranking soldier within the IRA. As a result of extraordinary circumstances, Liam’s innocent and carefree world is shattered when he is exposed to the truth about his family’s heritage and then learns about the tragic death of his father at the hands of the SAS. Consumed with both hate and the need to seek retribution, Liam is taken to Ireland where he is intensively trained to become a highly skilled and efficient soldier within the Irish Republican Army … He is 16 years old! Some years later, following the drug-induced death of his beloved sister, Liam is given the opportunity to exact his revenge on those he believed should truly be blamed for the tragedies in his life … The British Government! Thus, on the 15th June 1996, it was Liam’s responsibility to drive the bomb laden lorry into the unsuspecting city of Manchester and let the voice of the IRA be clearly heard … And listened to!!
With thanks to the author for the copy received. LetterBox is a fictionalised account of a true event, that of the IRA bombing in Manchester in 1996. You are aware of who the bomber is straight away but then the novel goes back to his childhood and shows how he grows from a normal innocent child into a killing machine.
It is hard to review a book that justifies an act without judgement but the author does a great job of showing the more likeable side to Liam. He shows that he does have a conscience, he misses his father, wants to protect his mother and sister but has been brainwashed into blaming the English by family and friends.
I liked the friendship between Liam and Sean and the budding romances between the two boys and Louise and Jen.
Much of his back story is in part one, where the reader sees what happens to Liam whilst he is at school and his family, until the events happen that determines his future life. I can imagine that there were events like this. There were a few occasions where you could see the threat but not often.
Part two was completely different. There was guilt and regret but this was all about revenge and the cause.
I am a few years older than Liam was in the novel and I am English. I have memories of living near Irish families whilst I was growing up and them being treated like Liam was by a handful of people. But until the Brighton and Hyde Park bombings I had no knowledge of the IRA. I don’t know if the treatment they received was because of the IRA or just because they spoke differently to everybody else, nor do I remember it being as volatile.
I visited Manchester a week after the bombing. Nothing you see on television prepares you for who what it like in real life. I remember standing with my back to the Royal Exchange Theatre looking over shops with damaged frontages, and just grateful that nobody died. You could have heard a pin drop. It doesn’t seem like 22 years ago. The post box on the cover is probably one of the most famous landmarks in the city centre.