Mysterious Book Report The TrustThe Trust by Ronald H. Balson

St. Martin’s Press, $26.99, 356 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-12744-0

The Troubles, as the conflict in Northern Ireland during the 1970s, 80s and 90s became known, has long been an area of interest for the MBR. The sectarian violence there pitted Protestant Unionists—those in favor of remaining in the British Commonwealth—against Catholic Republicans—who wanted to join the Republic of Ireland—in some of the worst violence the world has ever seen. Commonplace were the bombings, targeted assassinations and street brawls which took hundreds, if not thousands of lives. The British army was called in to maintain order and became the focus of violent attacks, while at the same time perpetrating murderous acts against the Catholic freedom fighters.

Now, a fascinating new novel by a Chicago trial attorney, educator and writer named Ronald H. Balson has revisited what’s become known as the second Irish civil war. His new work, The Trust (St. Martin’s Press, $26.99, 356 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-12744-0), begins with Chicago Special Investigator Liam Taggart getting a call from his estranged cousin Jan in Belfast. She informs him that his Uncle Fergus has died and Liam must return for the funeral at his Uncle’s request. Liam’s been estranged from his family, friends and native land for sixteen years, and swore he’d never go back again. Under duress he returns, only to find his family still embittered by his departure, his Uncle Fergus shot to death, and he himself named the sole trustee of a secret trust . . . into which his Uncle has left his entire estate . . . to be distributed only after his killer is found.

It’s an astonishing last will and testament in which Fergus had anticipated his own death, and it opens doors into a past Liam had long ago closed. Troublesome memories like the death of his parents, his service as a CIA agent, and the sudden end of his engagement with a woman named Annie Grossman. As he digs deeper into a past he doesn’t want to reopen, Liam faces increasing danger with every passing day, as one-by-one, members of his family are being murdered. Are The Troubles coming back to haunt the family, or is a serial killer on the loose? The answer can only be found by reading this compelling, fast-paced and electrifying novel.


John Dwaine McKenna