Not Untrue and Not Unkind Mail on Sunday review

There is a band of journalists and photographers who are irresistibly drawn to war zones. Even if they return home unharmed, what they have seen is indelibly printed on their minds and re-told over a drink or three as stories to shock and entertain. O’Loughlin, who has reported from Africa for several newspapers, has transformed battle-scarred reminiscences into a page-turning novel.

Owen, leaving the office politics of his Dublin newspaper for African adventures, is faced with the choice, while reporting atrocities in the Congo, between humanity and catching a deadline when an old woman asks for help in burying her granddaughter.

Other hard choices have to be made as the journalists bond, bicker and form fleeting liaisons in the midst of chaos.

O’Loughlin’s writing is vividly descriptive and evokes the sights and sounds of war-torn Africa in the late 1990s. The dialogue and rivalries between hacks and snappers have the ring of truth, though the plot which links the episodes is thin and the female characters insubstantial in comparison with the men. But overall, it’s a gripping picture of what it was like to be there.

© Ed O’Loughlin – Writer and Journalist