It is the tale of a taut father-son relationship with a timeless feel, though set purposefully in the Second World War in neutral Ireland. The narrator-son Donal returns to Bray from the Spanish Civil War, where he had supported the Republican cause, re leased from jail by a German officer who expects intelligence in return, camply insisting on the code names Rhett and Scarlett and a cipher based on Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Donal is caught up not only in a fiasco of wartime betrayals, handle d with considerable larkiness, but in a love triangle with his lovely ex-piano teacher turned stepmother, Rose, and his once politically powerful father, now a stroke victim. The cinematically vivid images of rain-drenched promenades and father and son se tting nightlines for fish in the Irish sea linger saltily. The fable-like ending, with ghost and sea monster, is startlingly effective. Maggie Traugott
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Sunrise with Sea Monster by Neil Jordan, Chatto £9.99. Between picking up his Oscar for The Crying Game and releasing his latest film Interview with the Vampire, the multi-gifted Neil Jordan just whipped up a nostalgic novel in his spare moments.