Lies of Silence

by Brian Moore

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Michael Dillon

Michael Dillon is a quintessential literary Irishman. He is a man of quiet unhappiness, riddled with ceaseless dissatisfaction. Dillon set aside the creative passion of his youth to pursue a stable career in the hotel industry; now the middle-aged manager of an American hotel in Belfast, Dillon is bursting with bitter regret and half-abandoned dreams. Although Dillon feels some fondness for his hometown, he has come to view Belfast as a city irredeemably torn by conflict and is more than ready to leave Northern Ireland. He finds an outlet for escape in Andrea, a young journalist working for the BBC with whom Dillon embarks on an extramarital affair. After she accepts a London-based position, he opts to follow her, leaving his wife, Moira, and Belfast far behind. 

Despite Dillon’s apathy toward his own life, he proves himself a man of action when circumstances demand. His decision to alert the police and thus save the occupants of his hotel from potential death or injury from the IRA bombing illustrates that he can make tough decisions and think with detachment about human life. By choosing to testify against the IRA members who broke into his home and identify Kev, Dillon shines, showing uncharacteristic courage and agency that, ultimately, leads to his death. 

Moira Dillon

Michael’s wife, Moira Dillon, transforms throughout the novel. In the beginning, she suffers heavily from bulimia, a common eating disorder. Moira is a beautiful woman yet is deeply insecure and emotionally fragile. Unlike her husband, she loves Belfast dearly and does not wish to leave her city. She is shaken by her husband’s decision to sacrifice her for the sake of those in the hotel and sees his actions as a sign that he does not love her. The revelation of his infidelity shatters Moira, but the betrayal forces her to grow stronger. Rather than shrinking back into herself, as she often does, Moira finds power in her voice, confronting the IRA on the radio and speaking as an anti-IRA advocate. By the end, she is unrecognizable; no longer crippled by the fear of her husband’s rejection—which she has faced and survived—she carries herself with confidence. 

Andrea

Andrea is a Canadian journalist covering the troubles in Northern Ireland for the BBC. She is an attractive young woman, and her confident interest in Dillon quickly lures the unhappy older man away from his wife. Despite the questionable morality of her interest in and pursuit of a married man, Andrea is a woman of staunch principles and strong opinions.

Inspector Randall

Inspector Randall is the primary officer responsible for investigating Michael and Moira’s home invasion and the subsequent terrorist attack on Michael’s hotel. He is deeply involved with the case, but his responsibilities often keep him occupied and make him difficult to contact, which makes Michael’s desire to identify the suspects difficult. 

Kevin McDowell

Also known as Kev, Kevin McDowell is a young man from Belfast. The police apprehend him as a suspect in the case, and Dillon is called back to Belfast to identify him. 

Father Matt Connolly

Father Matt Connolly is a corrupt priest who breaks the sanctity of confession by telling his nephew, Kev, that Dillon confessed that he would willingly aid the police in any capacity. Father Matt bears much responsibility for the grim fate awaiting Dillon, as he unintentionally convinces his nephew that extreme action must be taken. 

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