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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

Audiobook: Finally, a book in which the violence serves the story instead of the opposite.This is the first in a series of novels that portray Belfast and Northern Ireland following the peace accords, which left a lot of violent men with little to do and changing loyalties. Gerry Fegan had been an enforcer for one of the groups of thugs ostensibly battling the British.  Now beset by guilt for those he had killed, he’s surrounded by imaginary “followers” representing each of the twelve he had killed and they won’t leave him alone until he kills those who had ordered the killings.

Much as slavery and segregation haunt U.S. history, so do the years of the Troubles for the Irish. Preserving the peace becomes a priority for those in power and they will sacrifice innocents to maintain political stability. That’s one of the underlying themes of Neville’s book. “"Even now [that] the politicians had taken over the movement," Neville writes of the Irish Republican Army paramilitaries, "even though they were shifting away from the rackets, the extortion, the thieving, people still needed to be kept in line."  The British still have their undercover agents and one of those is tasked by his handlers with killing Fegan in order to prevent his killings from upsetting the delicate balance.

Note that even though billed as the first in the Jack Lennon Investigations series, Lennon plays a minuscule role unlike the second.  It’s all Gerry Fegan.

I read this book after Collusion, the second in the series, and several things became clear in both volumes.  I recommend reading the books in order, as knowing what happens in the second destroys any suspense in the first. Very good reading.
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