Monday, November 9, 2009

Book 43: Ghosts of Belfast

Sooner or later, everyone pays. In Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville, Gerry Fegan is haunted by twelve ghosts. All of them died at Gerry's hands, when he fought as a terrorist for Irish independence. He has been followed by them for years. The ghosts, all of them, dog Gerry's steps and keep him from sleep. When he drinks himself down, they plague his dreams. Gerry tries first to help the mother of one of his victims by revealing where her son's body is hidden. The boy is not appeased. After many long years, the ghosts have settled on a payment-- Gerry must kill the men whose orders he followed.

The pacing of this book is taut. The time line of it all skips back and forth from present to past. I am glad to say that Neville does it in a way that keeps the story clear. I actually spent 2 hours in the bath with it today because I couldn't bring myself to set it down. There is a little side romance, which I suppose is thrown into all the hard boiled books for some reason or another-- draw in the lady-readers? Humanize the protagonist? I don't find the later reason necessary, for the record. Neville has drawn a complex character who is both human and inhuman. Gerry has enough pangs of conscience without this need to be protective of Marie and her daughter. He lost his mother's love and fell away from faith due to his dealings in murder. The conclusion of this one was pitch perfect. The lone spoiler was on the flyleaf-- "This book is the first in a series." That is about as necessary as Hamlet Part Two.

For my international readers,(hahahahahah!) this is published in the UK and Australia under The Twelve. It is also reviewed by Adrian McKinty in his blog, which is linked in the sidebar. I thought I had certainly read of it first at his blog, however, since he just reviewed it last week and I had a hold on this at the library I now have no idea where I first heard of this book. Too bad really, I owe someone a thanks.

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