Not the biography of the rapper Snow, this Irish novel from the 1920s is about Gypo Nolan, a former Irish rebel, who informs on his neighbor as the culprit in a well-known murder of a public official. In the next scene, the murderer is tracked down and killed by the police. For his services, Gypo is paid 20 pounds.
For the rest of the novel, his shame and guilt is made real as he grapples with the moral weight of his difficult choice. He is tracked down by the Irish officials who would like to remind the Informer of their code of silence, he is reminded of the family that has now lost somebody, and he is reminded of his own actions in the rebellion and how they certainly suggest his lawful act is not exactly honorable. And of course he’s haunted by himself.
This is an interesting novel in a lot of ways. In one sense it directly grapples with the disconnect between morality and lawfulness, and asks the question of what happens when those might not be on the same side. It also presents the careful logic of colonialism in inexact terms. It’s an early example of colonized people talking back.
It’s also a suspense novel, and one that is more interesting in concept than in reading. I was curious about this one for a long time, and while I like the moral complexities of the novel, I am not so impressed by the actual writing.