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464 pages, Kindle Edition
First published October 6, 2020
Cal feels like he ought to stand on a street corner handing out warnings, little pieces of paper that just say: Anyone could do anything.
“I got weary,” Cal says. “Bone-weary.” He did. Every morning got to be like waking up with the flu, knowing he had to trek miles up a mountain.”
“One of the things that had caught his attention, when he first started looking into Ireland, was the lack of dangers: no handguns, no snakes, no bears or coyotes, no black widows, not even a mosquito. Cal feels like he’s spent most of his life dealing with feral creatures, one way or another, and he liked the thought of passing his retirement without having to take any of them into account. It seemed to him that Irish people were likely to be at ease with the world in ways they didn’t even notice. Now that rifle feels like something it would be good to have in the house, the sooner the better.”
“Their decades of familiarity, which seemed like a comfort at the beginning of last night, weave themselves into an impenetrable thicket; its layers obscure every action and every motivation till they’re near indecipherable to an outsider.”
“Cal has had enough of being discreet. He figures it’s time to kick a few bushes and see what scuttles out.”
Listening to Mart, Cal has started to get an inkling of how tangled up things get around here, and how carefully you have to watch where you put your feet. Noreen, who runs the shop in the brief double line of buildings that count as Ardnakelty village, won't order the cookies Mart likes because of a complicated saga that took place in the 1980s and involved her uncles, Mart's father and grazing rights; Mart doesn't speak to an unpronounceable farmer on the other side of the mountains because the guy bought a pup that was sired by Mart's dog when it somehow shouldn't have been. There are other stories like that...he's gathered enough to know that he could have sat on someone's stool in the pub, or cut across the wrong piece of land on one of his walks, and that that could mean something.
All of a sudden he has that sensation he kept getting...an intense awareness of the spread of the dark countryside all around his house; a sense of being surrounded by a vast invisible web, where one wrong touch could shake things so far distant he hasn't even spotted them.