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Fionn Óg Mac Tubaiste is prey to a number of frustrations. His day job is a university lectureship in Mathematics. This can be wearing, but his problems with the Third Engineers don't stand comparison with his hopeless passion for Aisling Hennessy, who loves him but is determined to be good.
His problem with the fiery Maeve Fotheringgay-Ffrench, his lodger, is quite the opposite. Maeve is determined to be wicked, but as long as she is a student, rudimentary prudence obliges him to restrain his lust for her. None of these problems hold a candle to those associated with Fionn's part-time job as (sole) field man of the Irish Secret Service, ASR.
ASR is run by Malachy Mulligan ("M"), the least civil and least principled Principal Officer in the Civil Service. It has a surprising number of jobs to do, and Fionn is supposed to do them all. His methods are nothing like James Bond's.
The period is the early eighties. The world's finest secret service operates in Ireland, as it does everywhere else, but it finds conditions unusually trying. When Fionn comes to the Russians' attention, field agents Grigory Pavlovich Milyutin and Katarina Alexeyevna Ural'tseva are assigned to tail him, and things rapidly begin to come unstuck.
Fergal Anton's mother came from old Ascendancy stock, but ran away
to join a travelling circus in her teens
and proved to have a talent for
the high wire. She married a Hungarian lion-tamer,
and Fergal was born in winter quarters in Picardy in 1955.
Orphaned at the age of four when his parents
attempted a daring double-act, he was taken into the the care of a wealthy,
eccentric aunt, who lived in the shadow of the Devilsbit mountain in
north Tipperary. She attempted to home-school him,
with mixed results. As a child, obsessed with Mathematics,
she neglected other studies, so that she had to spend her nineteenth year
at Caffrey's College in Dublin in order to pass Latin in the
Matriculation Examination. She boarded at the Ashling Hotel,
and fell hopelessly in love with Ludwig Wittgenstein, also in
residence there at the time. This entirely unrequited passion
dominated her life, largely spent in reclusive mathematical
investigation and repeated attempts to get to grips with
Wittgenstein's thought. Fergal's education at her hands
exposed him to some rigorous thinking and inculcated
a love of books, but hardly prepared him for the
usual bourgeois treadmill. He picked up some skills in a couple of abortive
apprenticeships, but was unable to settle,
and became a wandering jack-of-all-trades and adventurer. Little is
known of this period of his life. Some believe he served
in the Royal Navy, or the French Foreign Legion, or
worked clearing minefields in the Western Desert.
He certainly worked as a security guard for a number of companies, before
finally settling in the position of night-watchman in a
university library. He did not return from holiday in the
Summer of 1995, and has never been seen since. When
his aunt died, his room in her house was found to contain a
mass of his effects, including voluminous writings. On examination,
the manuscript of this novel came to light.
Her heirs brought it to the attention of Logic Press.
Since this is a work of fiction, and is not
to be taken seriously as describing any real events or depicting
any real characters, it is not suitable for the
ordinary catalogue of the Press. So we founded a separate
division, and now Less Serious Books is pleased to bring this work
before the public.