Review: THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST
Author: Stuart Neville (Soho Crime 2009)
Fortunately, it hasn't quite come to that. Ha ha ha ...
Anyway, this novel opens with Gerry Fegan getting drunk off his ass, which he does all the time. Fegan is, in point of fact, a stone killer who murdered many people during the The Troubles in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the story takes place (of course). Fegan has served time in the Maze prison and has been released. However, there's a reason Fegan has become a
So ... Fegan goes about
In any case, Fegan's series of retributions become a thorn in the side of the powers that be. Politicians (new and old guard) and another more mysterious faction (ooh, complicated!) who see his crusade as a threat to the uneasy peace that's been struck in Northern Ireland. Thus, they will do anything to stop him, including terminating Fegan with extreme prejudice.
To do this, the mysterious faction enlists the help of a renegade Scotsman named Campbell, who's about as mean a
Thing is Fegan is the one the reader is rooting for, because he's the protagonist. His humanity is best expressed in his relationship with Marie McKenna and her child, Ellen. Marie has been shunned by her family due to her
When you come down to it, all the characters have a touch of that humanity to them. That's what raises this story beyond the level of a suspenseful and bloody crime fiction read, to something that resonates with the reader long after you reach the book's stunning climactic bloodbath at the farm I kept reading about in the sequel. Now, I finally know what that was about! :)
And, honestly, who'd have thought a scene with a stone killer, a mother and her child could actually bring a tear to a hardboiled crime writer's eye?