Mark O'Connell A Thread of Violence: A Story of Truth, Invention, and Murder


Code 9781783789573
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From an award-winning author comes a tale of a notorious double-murder, for readers of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, or Emmanuel Carrere's The Adversary.

In 1982 Malcolm Macarthur, the wealthy heir to a small estate, found himself suddenly without money. The solution, he decided, was to rob a bank.

To do this, he would need a gun and a car. In the process of procuring them, he killed two people, and the circumstances of his eventual arrest in the apartment of Ireland's Attorney General nearly brought down the government. The case remains one of the most shocking in Ireland's history and the words used to describe the crimes (grotesque, unprecedented, bizarre, and almost unbelievable) have remained in the cultural lexicon as the acronym GUBU.

Mark O'Connell has long been haunted by the story of this brutal double murder. But in recent years this haunting has become mutual. When O'Connell sets out to unravel the mysteries still surrounding these horrific and inexplicable crimes, he tracks down Macarthur himself, now an elderly man living out his days in Dublin and reluctant to talk.

As the two men circle one another, O'Connell is pushed into a confrontation with his own narrative: what does it mean to write about a murderer?

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'In the gallery of criminals who have fascinated writers, the elegant Malcolm Macarthur is one of the most enigmatic. And in the pantheon of writers fascinated by criminals, Mark O'Connell proves himself among the most brilliant. It is one of the boundaries that cut humanity in two: those who have killed someone, those who have not. O'Connell roams around this boundary, in this grey area, from which he has brought a fascinating narrative'
- Emmanuel Carrere, author of The Adversary

'A ridiculously good book. The prose is apparently knowing and smooth; the subject is anything but. Malcolm Macarthur, an infamous, ageing double murderer, exists on every page, in almost every sentence, and yet recedes continually out of reach. The effect on the reader is like being in the eye of hurricane - terrifyingly calm - the moral vortex at the heart of breathtaking violence. It's like watching dangerous dance, a folie a deux, between a deeply skilled and humane writer and a murderer with a high regard for his own etiquette. You want to chuck it across the room and then run after it and then carry on reading, as gripped as you were before'
- Sam Knight, author of The Premonitions Bureau

'In A Thread of Violence Mark O'Connell has investigated, with immense skill and insight, the mind of a double murderer, and in the process has shown the essential mysteriousness of such a mind-perhaps of any mind. The result is a beautifully wrought narrative that is at once frightening and thrilling. A masterly work'
- John Banville

A Thread of Violence is nourished by a powerful moral intelligence and an enormous curiosity. Mark O'Connell circles the inner life of the murderer Malcolm Macarthur with subtlety and forensic care... Complex and disturbing as well as intriguing and compelling'
- Colm Toibin

'I read it at one sitting, so gripping was the account of Mark's conversations with a man who cannot call himself a murderer and yet killed two people utterly senselessly. The sensitivity of the work and the attention to language made this book one of the best of its kind and an example to others of how to do it'
- Dr Gwen Adshead, Consultant forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist, and author of The Devil You Know

'A masterful, haunting book by an author at the height of his powers. Mark O'Connell asks us how much we can ever understand about the darkness that resides in other people, and in ourselves'
- Ed Caesar

'Stays with you for weeks. The eerie, tenuous relationship between journalist and killer lives in the legacy of Janet Malcolm and Truman Capote'
- Caitlin Doughty


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