Jean McConville had just taken a bath when the intruders knocked on the door.
The rasp of knuckles at a West Belfast flat would jar many people at night in 1972. That sound for so many – fathers, young men, teens, a mother of 10 – marked the moment when lives were upended, families plunged into fear.
The mystery of a mother’s fate, told in spare, vivid detail, is just one of several lives stitched together in Patrick Radden Keefe’s arresting story, “Where the Bodies Are Buried.” In 15,700 words, he steeps readers in the daily terrors and psychological destruction wrought by decades of guerilla warfare in Northern Ireland. Readers understand by the story’s end that the grinding violence of the Troubles is not a historical conflict, but one that still fumes, indeed sometimes bursts to life, in the brick alleys and warrens today.