A Thread of Violence | Granta

  • Published: 06/07/2023
  • ISBN: 9781783787708
  • Granta Books
  • 304 pages

A Thread of Violence

Mark O'Connell

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.

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?

Like all great books, A Thread of Violence is the document of a great writer's obsession. Mark O'Connell draws the reader into a deeply engrossing story, and at the same time into a complex investigation of human brutality and of narrative writing itself. This is a superb and unforgettable book

Sally Rooney

Phenomenal. It's very dark, necessarily, but I found it very rich. Macarthur seems as though he's being generous and open, but there's also this manipulative side of him. It's like a chess game between the two of them, which I found really compelling

Paul Murray, Guardian

No contemporary literary mind seems to me more subtle, perceptive or trustworthy... [An] eerie, philosophically probing book... A Thread of Violence instils the certitude not only that no one else could have written this book, but that no other need ever be written on the subject. It's a marvel of tact, attentiveness, and unclouded moral acuity

Rob Doyle, Guardian Book of the Week

The Author

Mark O’Connell is an award-winning Irish writer. His first book, To Be a Machine, won the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize. In 2019, he became the first ever non-fiction writer to win the prestigious Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. His second book, Notes From an Apocalypse was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize. He is a contributor to the New York Review of Books, and his work has appeared in theNew Yorker.

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From the Same Author

Mark O'Connell on Granta.com

Granta Books Writing | Granta Books

In Conversation

Jenny Offill & Mark O'Connell

‘This isn’t the end of the world. It’s history going about its business. This isn’t the last apocalypse by a long shot.’

Jenny Offill, author of Weather, talks to Mark O’Connell, author of Notes from the Apocalypse.