The Colour of Blood

The Colour of Blood, published in 1987, is a political thriller by Northern Irish-Canadian novelist Brian Moore about Stephen Bem, a Cardinal in an unnamed East European country who is in conflict with the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy[1] and finds himself caught in the middle of an escalating revolution.

The Colour of Blood
First UK edition
AuthorBrian Moore
CountryUnited Kingdom
Genrepolitical thriller
PublisherJonathan Cape (UK)
McClelland & Stewart (Canada)
Dutton (US)
Publication date
Media typePrint
Preceded byBlack Robe (1985) 
Followed byLies of Silence (1990) 


Clancy Sigal, writing in The New York Times, described the novel as a study of faith under pressure: "Almost in thriller form, it is also a wise and illuminating meditation on the labyrinthine forces at work in a Roman Catholic Communist country like Poland (where Mr. Moore served with a United Nations relief group after the war)."[2]

According to critic Jo O'Donoghue, The Colour of Blood deals with the problem of how the modern Catholic Church "is to live in tandem with the secular authority".[3]

In her biography of Moore, Patricia Craig describes The Colour of Blood as a protest against intolerance, "with fanatical Catholicism presented as a destructive force. At the same time the Cardinal himself stands for another kind of Catholicism: moderate and incorruptible, and not unaccommodating of theological uncertainties".[4]


It won the Sunday Express Book of the Year award in 1987 and was also nominated for the Booker Prize.[5]


  1. "Brian Moore, 1921–99: Cool prose craftsman". Socialism Today (36). March 1999.
  2. Clancy Sigal (27 September 1987). "Cardinal Bem on the run". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  3. Jo O'Donoghue (1991). Brian Moore: a critical study. McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 220. ISBN 0-7735-0850-3.
  4. Patricia Craig (2002). Brian Moore: A Biography. Bloomsbury. p. 246. ISBN 0 7475 6844 8.
  5. "The Colour of Blood". The Man Booker Prizes. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
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