Shinner’s List (2003) the gripping true story of intrigue and betrayal based on real events... probably. Philip McCavateigh is a high-ranking Sinn Féin official who’s been right at the heart of the IRA since 'The Troubles' began. Of consequence, he knows everything about everybody and has a comprehensive dossier that details every Provisional IRA Active Service Unit in the province and elsewhere. It’s information that British intelligence need badly.
Fortunately, McCavateigh has been turned by MI5 and elements within the IRA suspect they have an informer in their midst. It’s only a matter of time before McCavateigh is found out and ends up being nailed to a barn door and fed to the pigs. The only problem is that McCavateigh is holed up in a shebeen in the heart of 'Bandit County'.
Lieutenant Crispin Drake of the SAS has been tasked by ‘Box’ to extract their informer in an operation named ‘Crown Jewel’. The dashing cavalry officer and former Cambridge rowing blue simply must succeed in this most deadly game.
The specially-fitted Range Rover sped through the gloomy evening light. It had been a fast drive down from Lisburn on the motorway and A1 before he swung right on to the A29 and powered away towards Crossmaglen. As ordered by the CO Drake was in plain clothes. He’d dressed down for the occasion. His choice of tweed jacket and well-worn red corduroy trousers should enable him to easily blend in with the local yokels. The ensemble - topped off with Barbour jacket and tweed cap – would render him invisible, chameleon-like.
He was lightly armed with a 9mm Browning Hi-Power automatic pistol – enough to deal with any problems that should arise, and beneath his dapper cravat was the throat mike that was his lifeline to the Head Shed back at HQ. The radio’s earpiece was discretely concealed by the regulation long hair and outrageous sideburns that he sported with great aplomb, though he eschewed the moustache favoured by the other lads in the squadron.
A burnished brogue pressed the accelerator, the run-flat tyres of the Rover gripping the muddy backroads as he swerved through hairpin bends at speeds that were unwise under normal conditions - the double UHF whip antennae on the vehicle’s roof slicing through overhanging tree branches like a hot knife through butter. Time was of the essence.
The signs for ‘XMG’ became more common now as the surrounding countryside flashed by in a blur. He was approaching his objective: The Shillelagh & Leprechaun, a ropey gaff that he otherwise wouldn’t be seen dead in – and he knew for certain there was no Pimms behind the bar. Drake shook his head. ‘Fucking pikeys!’ he mused to himself.
The lights of the pub drew closer through the rain lashed windscreen and Drake turned in to the carpark in a spray of gravel before wheel-spinning in to a perfect J-turn and reversing in to one of the few vacant spaces. He turned the lights and V8 engine off and briefly listened to the live music emanating from within before exiting the Rover and striding purposefully towards the saloon bar door.
The pub was busy and the guttural local tongue filled the air almost as thick as the cigarette smoke. The sound of chatter and laughter abated, as did the Caileidh band as Drake’s impressive frame filled the doorway. He entered the bar. A ball rolling across the pool table slowed and ominously stopped. Unperturbed, Drake sauntered across to the bar looking around at the silent clientele as he went – the weight of the Browning tucked in to his belt lending some reassurance.
Drake placed his gloved hands on the bar top and gave it his best Irish accent. ‘Begosh and begorrah Paddy, I’ll have a pint of yer finest dark stuff there’s a good feller!’ Smiling broadly he turned around and scanned the room for his contact – a pale looking man in the corner with a strange horrified look on his face. Drake immediately recognised him and gave him a cheery wave. ‘Top of the mornin’ te yis!’ The bar was deathly silent. There was only one thing for it.
Drake strode across to the band and whispered in to the singer’s ear. The band looked at each other in total bewilderment. Drake knew that the Irish liked a good sing-song and it was time to play his ace card. He nodded to the band and they struck up in unison as Drake launched in to that old Irish favourite The Sash My Father Wore. The pale-looking man in the corner began to vomit violently and the crowd gawped in stunned astonishment.
Drake sang his heart out – he had a fine voice and it was rather a good tune. Always the consummate professional, Drake was by now in full flow. The usual applause was noticeable by its absence and he sensed an unhealthy tension amongst the obviously unappreciative drinkers. He launched straight in to the Green Grassy Slopes of the Boyne – again to no response.
Further renditions of The Sprigs of Kilrea, Derry’s Walls and the Auld Orange Flute were also met with frosty glares from the bar. ‘Well’, he thought, ‘if nothing else, then a rousing cry of “No surrender!” should lighten the mood.’ Nothing. ‘Fuck the Pope!’ The pale-looking man was by now shaking uncontrollably on the floor and was clearly very ill.
The crowd began to look distinctly hostile. A glass broke on the floor. ‘What’s the matter with youse miserable jiggers?’ Drake was soon to find out. ‘Time to fire up the V8’ he thought as he pushed through the increasingly angry throng and went back out in to the carpark. He halted, a look of shock appearing on his face. The Rover was still there, but the wheels were long gone. ‘Fucking pikeys!’ Drake spun around and drew his weapon. It was high time these bogtrotters were taught a lesson... and there’d be detention after class.
Shinner’s List takes the reader in to the black heart of Ulster’s Troubles. Though the work has received much criticism – along with every other book published by Clunge – it is nevertheless a rip-roaring, non-stop, rollercoaster ride compendium of clichés that will leave the reader on the edge of his seat... and off it... probably.
- This book is an absolute fecking disgrace – Irish Folk Review
- Clunge is a cnut – The Traveller
- I agree – Caravanning World
- Clunge goes from strength to strength – Andy McNab
- A tour de force – Which Cliché Magazine
- Magnifique – Le Waltage
- 'Does the Pope shit in the woods? ... Of course its another classic from Clunge!' – Glasgow Rangers News
- There may be trouble(s) ahead - Nat King Cole