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The Informer

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  407 ratings  ·  48 reviews
A tale of temptation, betrayal, and reprisal, this powerful novel is set in the aftermath of the Irish Civil War. It tells of Gypo Nolan, who informs on a wanted comrade. The source of the Academy Award-winning film directed by John Ford. Preface by Denis Donoghue.
Paperback, 182 pages
Published July 17th 1980 by Mariner Books (first published 1925)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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John Mccullough
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know when Irish literature took a somber, negative, depressing turn, but "The Infomer" is a classic of that genre. Brilliantly written, the story of big, clumsy, Gypo Nolan who "informs" on his best childhood and adult pal and the consequences of this horrible act of betrayal. That's all I can say without giving up the story. By the way, I believe that "Gypo" is short for Gypsy, or a disreputable person, so probably pronounced like "Jippo." It s a short read and well worth the small but ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was reminded by a NYT article in today's paper on the newest Irish prime minister that I had read this book long ago. This story is a modern tragedy - the seeming futility of Frankie McPhillp's proto-IRA terrorism against the British occupiers and the ignorance and poverty of Gypo Nolan's sad, tag-along fealty to Frankie's cause that leads him to a Judas-like betrayal of his friend that costs Frankie his life. This is a really taught, spare narrative, with great character development (at least o ...more
May 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My favorite character name in all literature: Gypo.

We Irish do not like to forgive. It is our constant undoing.
Bob Newman
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fenian Hulk Finks on Friend, Fatally Fails to Flee

In the confused political situation in Ireland between 1916 and 1925, all kinds of ideologies competed, common criminals took up party work only to revert to their original callings. Leaders were betrayed, assassinated, jailed. The long dream of independence came to life, but in a fog of disappointment and disillusion. When the dust settled, all the brilliant men lay dead. O'Flaherty has set his novel in the politico-criminal underworld of this p
May 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
A procession of events dragged down by themselves. The Informer ultimately fails due to the weight it fails to convey, the tension it ultimately cannot produce. Beautiful passages are wasted by unnatural characters; multifaceted motivation and political ambiguity are possessed not by humans, but by the shades of their actions, dooming this novel to the cardboard-depth of these characters.
Vel Veeter
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
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 re
Jan 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Gypo Nolan is the informer of the title. Following the Irish Civil War, Gypo betrays his friend Frankie and turns him in to the police for a murder Frankie committed. Gypo's life is then at risk and he must protect himself from his former comrades, all of whom are pretty teed of at what he did.

There's a John Ford-directed movie of this book that I'd be curious to see. The story was fine, but I have a feeling the movie (particularly directed by Ford) would be better. And I'm curious to see if the
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this as high school required --- given it was a school full of Irish-Catholic descendants it made sense. A sad and haunting (to me) story

of temptation, loyalty, betrayal and redemption set in 1920's post -Civil

War Dublin. An enduring lamentation of The Troubles. "Gypo" Nolan,

ex-policeman, rebel, judas is one of the truly tragic characters in

literature. An important book for me. Finds itself in my rotation of re-reads.

Starting on this one for a Modern Irish Novel course. Funnily enough, a good friend of mine lent it to me out of the blue just before the semester started, saying merely that it read quickly and well. Next thing I know it's the lead off book for the course! Irish kismet, there it is.

Looking forward to it. Comments to follow.
John Newcomb
This was a sad tale of treachery and revenge set during the civil war. There is a sort of stream of consciousness occasionally appearing and a nod to Joyce without the full commitment of a modernist style.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Come for the tension, the depiction of a city barely rebuilt after war, of organisations plagued by egos and paranoia – stay for the wildly drawn out descriptions of every significant character. It turns out Ireland was not an attractive place in the 1920s.

“He was a man of middle size and slightly built, but his shoulders were broad enough for a giant. His body narrowed down from the shoulders, so that the hips and waist were totally out of proportion to the upper part of his body. His right leg
May 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: irish-authors
O'Flaherty has a curious "voice" as narrator, but a unique and consistent one. (Last year I read a collection of his short stories printed in the '50s, though I have no idea when they were written.) The style is somewhat stilted to my modern ears, but that may be a result of the time and place. Be that as it may, he certainly captured that time and place, or rather gave it an authenticity and immediacy. The setting is Dublin, c.1923. The Irish Civil War between the forces in favour of the Treaty ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turbulent, sad, paranoid, the tensión is always in crescendo. The narrator can focus whether the action or the psychological state of the characters and it all adds up to the plot, making it very entertaining. It takes you back to those pre-Republican days of Ireland,everything in this story is gloomy, harsh, there is an air of hopelessness and almost all the characters share despair.

I liked how the autor uses some of the characters to make political and philosophical reflections that sometimes
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I picked up this book after catching part of the 1939 movie with Victor McLaglan. I was curious about the themes of Irish politics in the story. The book was published in 1935, and as I read the opening, I was intrigued that the main character is a political murderer who's been in hiding in the hills with other criminals, and he's just dragged himself into the city to try to get some help. The prose definitely reminded me of Joyce's "Dubliner Tales," in the dark themes and the desperate straits ...more
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the story about betraying in the relationship and its consequences. But eventually, truth wins. The most visible think in this story is how much fragile can the relationship only be as for money. All the story seems like really dark, gloomy and melancholic. The thoughts of characters are described in detail so one may say that it is one half of a book which describes characters’ thoughts. The gratest part of it presents Gypo’s thinking due to such a nervousness and constant stress what o ...more
R.W. Kennedy
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reminiscent of the "The Power and the Glory"(Greene), this book follows a morally questionable character, Gypo Nolan, as he struggles to survive many toils and snares after snitching on his colleague in the Revolutionary Organization to the British Police. O'Flaherty has an enviable writing style. He'll hit you with that (to use two Irish Americans) O'Hara minimalism, throw a body feint, then hit you with a (F. Scott) Fitzgerald flourish, though these flourishes cannot compare to those of the au ...more
Aziel Torres
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A simpleton led by impulse... I imagine it would have come about him by the poverty of the time... The end of this book is indeed a scene to make you cry... I enjoyed this book!

Forgiveness abd a loving mother... And grace bestowed... Enjoy it if you ever choose to read this book!

James 5:19-20 NASB
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, [20] let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will
Rex Hurst
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A tale of temptation, betrayal, and reprisal, this powerful novel is set in the aftermath of the Irish Civil War. It tells of Gypo Nolan, who informs on a wanted comrade. The author portrays Gyppo as a character who seems all body, instinct, and appetite, and he sets him up in contrast to Dan Gallagher, the rebel commander, who is all mind and intellect. Both are concerned with power, but Gyppo's is brute strength, and Dan's has to do with keeping his comrades in line by virtue of his capacity f ...more
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
A good companion to "The Conformist". Getting by in the real, practical, possibly dangerous world, versus ethical, moral choices, and the consequences of these choices. Rationalizing the short term ease of a compromise. Suffering more, because others fall victim to these choices. Others that never had the opportunity to choose for themselves. Just people in the wrong place and time. Gives the reader a good grasp of "the Irish problem", while making it a human problem of wider scope.
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a good story, mired in a heck of a lot of bilious, overwrought, sometimes plodding adjectives.
But entertaining with a few little funny moments and observations (even funnier when they weren't laden with the minutest of details regarding the angle of both theft and right arms, hands, each finger, hair on the character's head, &c.).
It reminded me of an Irish version of The Secret Agent, by Joseph Conrad (which I loved and flowed more smoothly, so far as I recall).
Joel Mitchell
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
This felt a lot like Crime & Punishment…if it were set in Ireland during “the troubles” and the protagonist was a brutish moron instead of a sensitive, philosophical type. We get to watch the mental torment of an oaf who betrays his friend as the vengeance-seeking revolutionary party plays a game of cat and mouse with him. The plot crawls through the seedy underbelly of Dublin and was surprisingly deeper/better than I expected. ...more
Jeff Mayo
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it
After the Irish Civil War a man informs the authorities on the whereabouts of his former comrade during the war. He is then hunted by his former revolutionary brothers for the betrayal while his former friend is hunted by the police. Short enough to be a quick read, but still too much politics and not enough action. At nearly a hundred years since its first publishing it has remained in print and has had several movies based on it.
Nov 29, 2010 rated it liked it
It was a slow build up and you did feel somewhat for the tragic character at the end. I think this would have been much more powerful in the environment where these things were happening and closer to the time when the events occurred. While I might not necessarily recommend it to everyone, it definitely interested me enough to want to see the academy award winning film based on the book.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have really fallen in love with Irish literature but for me this book really didn’t stand up against the previous books I’ve read. The plot was slow and the characters were flat. The only reason I finished this book is because one of my favorite professors recommended it to me. I understand it’s importance in Irish history but believe it wasn’t written as wonderfully and it appeared to be.
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it

I'm sure this is a fine book and all, but I could not, for the life of me, stand the needless exposition upon exposition upon exposition. I honestly feel that O'Flaherty could have told the same story, but shorter while still leaving in the important details.
Arthur Pierce
My first book by Liam O'Flaherty; having seen the John Ford movie I knew more or less what to expect plot wise, at least. It is well-written and strangely engaging, considering there really is not a wholy sympathetic character in the book.
Sep 16, 2007 added it
Great psychological story of a man on the run during the Irish Civil War.
Alyson Bowers
Feb 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish-lit
While a not a well-known masterpiece, and somewhat of a corny ending, O'Flaherty has really interesting characters in this book and I really liked it
Just don't remember that well will have to reread
The Informer by Liam O'Flaherty (1961)
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Liam O'Flaherty was a significant Irish novelist and short story writer and a major figure in the Irish literary renaissance. He was involved for a time in left-wing politics, as was his brother Tom Maidhc O'Flaherty (also a writer), and their father, Maidhc Ó Flaithearta, before them.

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