Modern Gods

Viking. Jun. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780670025145. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780735223738. F
The Donnelly sisters are in big trouble. Liz, a college professor in America who walks in on her indiscreet, much younger boyfriend, accepts a last-minute gig to film a BBC documentary of a new cargo cult religion in an island off the coast of Papua, New Guinea. On the way, she stops off in Ireland to attend the wedding of her younger sister, Alison, mother of two, who is about to marry for the second time with results even more disastrous than her first marriage. Intertwined among these compelling catastrophes are the unbearable last moments of victims of a mass shooting in an Irish pub during the Troubles. Impossible choices threaten to derail both sisters—Liz and the film crew get drawn more deeply and dangerously into the religious leader's struggles with Christian missionaries, and Alison's hours-long marriage is in ruins when her husband's history overtakes them.
VERDICT Laird's intensely layered third novel (Utterly Monkey; Glover's Mistake) beautifully weaves together the threads borne of provocative questions about the possibility of redemption rising from the horrors of war and the courage required to survive the detonation of love.
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