Dan is UCO122, an undercover cop tasked with infiltrating a group of idealistic environmental protestors who believe changing the world should be engaging and fun. The first encounter between Dan and Skylark, warrior queen of the group, is electric: soon, they are a couple. Skylark by Alice O’Keefe is an acutely observed, beautifully written story of lies and betrayal – one inspired by real events.
Reading this, you feel Skylark’s confusion, fear, and grief as her relationship with Dan – her world – topples around her; conversely, the stress and mental strain of undercover work is conveyed with insight. Sex is wielded as a weapon, and heftily as secrets. All the characters involved, even minor players, are keenly observed. Alice O’Keeffe’s prose is colourful, with a seemingly effortless way of pulling you into the storytelling. In time, Skylark’s tone darkens, as the activist group becomes subsumed by more extreme, militant factions: again, this sequence of events has factual precedent.
The novel excellently conveys the impact of such undercover operations on all lives involved and depicts rapidly changing times in national and international environmental movements. Skylark is a thought-provoking, well-researched and compelling saga of worlds colliding and lives that will never be the same.
Skylark, Alice O’Keeffe (Hodder & Stoughton)
Price: £16.99. Info: here
words BILLIE INGRAM SOFOKLEOUS
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