Books: Bloody Irishmen

MORTAL FRIENDS by James Carroll

Little, Brown; 607pages; $10.95

Doom hangs on this grandly hewn novel like fog on the Cliffs of Moher. Colman Brady, a Tipperary bridegroom, waiting for the dawn of his wedding day. wakes his brother and sister for a nocturnal trek. Their goal is "a rock shadow over the village, at once enchanting and threatening"—one of those mysterious neolithic monuments that mark the fringes of Western Europe, ancient altars still defying the new Christian God. Chilled, the two siblings retreat. Brady greets the sun alone with exhilarated hope. It...

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