From Publishers Weekly
O'Loughlin's mixed debut finds newspaperman Owen Simmons in possession of his dead colleague's files and, more importantly, a secret they contain. It is Simmons's ensuing tale of his African war reporting that promises to reveal what that secret is, but late in the book, when a minor character publishes a memoir of sorts that shares the title and characters of this novel, the reader begins to suspect that Simmons has found in his dead colleague a convenient MacGuffin to string readers through his own war stories. They're good anecdotes that evoke the danger of battle, the horror of its aftermath, and the camaraderie of the brooding and maniacal bigfeet, nomads, fixers, stringers, and lens monkeys who witness it, but the intrigue promised in the first chapter doesn't run evenly through the story, and Simmons doesn't give away enough of himself, leaving readers with no one to really care for. (June)
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Irish journalist Owen Simmons is back at his newspaper in Dublin, comfortably doing as little work as possible, when he happens upon a photograph of himself taken when he was a foreign correspondent in Africa in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. The photo inspires an extended flashback that makes up the bulk of this polished first novel. The narrative tone seems oddly matter of fact, but readers will surmise that correspondents become somewhat desensitized to the horrors of corpses lining roads for miles, epidemics, and orphaned children. But O’Loughlin also recalls a harsh ethical argument about whether correspondents should help an elderly woman bury her grandchild. He also shows them dashing back to their comfortable hotels to file their stories and get on to dinner, drinks, and trading rumors. The author, who covered Africa for the Irish Times, set himself a lofty goal, and he largely achieves it: Not Untrue & Not Unkind, already released in England, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and it vividly re-creates the life of a foreign correspondent. --Thomas Gaughan