Mooncar by Edward Evans Worthside Holdings, £12.99

The cover of Ted Evans’ latest novel shows a moonlit British Army armoured car used in Ireland during the First World War, before the island was divided and when southern Irish republicans fought the English and then each other.

One of these armoured vehicles was stolen and employed by the rebels against the British Army. Ted Evans has a strong weakness for vintage cars, long journeys, exciting adventures and true love.

His favourite components can all be found in Mooncar which starts off in his characteristic narrative style with one character telling a reporter his life story.

The character is one Michael Finn, a veteran rebel fighter on the run from the authorities. When Ted Evans introduces him, in conversation with his un-named reporter, he has a stab at a southern Irish accent: “So you’re having trouble understanding my Irish accent? Look laddie, I’m beginning to think you’re wasting me bloody time – I’m not interested in your money. We never did speak the King’s English. Why should we?”

But within a few pages Finn is nattering away in the manner of a character the late Ian Carmichael might have played: “Right ho, Patrick, we’ll be ready.”

Can this really be the voice of a teenager whose mother was clubbed to death by Black and Tans and whose father was unjustly hanged?

I’ve said before that Ted Evans’s gift for story-telling is apt to be spoiled by careless writing, the easy use of cliches – “ a whale of a time”, “like a knife through butter”, “got on my goat” and even “wow”. Would a feisty red-haired mature Irish woman circa 1917 use such an expression? It doesn’t feel right.

The woman in question is Maureen, red-haired of course like Maureen O’Hara. She and Michael fall for one another, marry and, between bouts of uninhibited love-making, she joins him in the fight against the British.

He drives the Mooncar while she fires the Lewis machine gun, shooting up a British warship and mowing down scores of British soldiers.

All this sounds gripping and it would be but for the the difficulty Ted Evans has in maintaining the voice of Michael Finn. The book almost lost its way for me because Ted Evans became the narrator. His was the voice I kept hearing, not Finn’s.

He has a go at rectifying this by adding in a Father Ted semi-expletive as the story gets more violent and Michael Finn starts killing with a vengeance.

Ted Evans is usually pretty good at speaking in the voice of his character-narrators, male and female; but in this book I don’t think he penetrates the terrible reality he is trying to convey until well over halfway through.

The gang-rape of the beautiful Maureen and her subsequent trial and death, remove what doubts Finn had about what he was doing. He tracks down her killers and slaughters them. By this stage, the authenticity of the narrator’s voice hardly matters. The pace of events takes over with a terrific finale which redeems the earlier part of the book.

One last word. I don’t think Bren guns and Sten guns came into use until, respectively, the mid-1930s and World War TWo.

Yet Ted has them in the hands of British soldiers in the First World War and in Ireland.