Any novel that Gerard Doyle choses to read is a gem and this is no exception. Listening to his wonderful irish accent is a delight as he brings all the characters to life, like an illustrator brings a book to life
I read the book and then listened to it on audible about a year later. I was swept away with both, but more so with the audible performance. I'm not sure if it's one reader or more, but it sounded like a voice for every character, which I loved. I almost gave the story a four star, because of the violence, but then realized that violence IS the reality of the plot, and one can't wish it away.
At one point, our sort-of heroine, Marie McKenna, asks our hero (as much a hero an emotionally ill serial killer can be), Gerry Fegan, “You can’t choose the places you don’t belong, but what if the places you don’t belong are only ones left to you?”
It’s a great question, put in memorable noir elegance, and much of this novel sets out to answer it. Gerry is haunted, literally, by the ghosts of the people he killed when he was one of the IRA’s top hard men, and he understands them as demanding that he put to death the men responsible.
Most of this is as fine an example of the genre as you’ll get. Neville writes with consistent skill, and he has a gift for alternating scenes of riveting violence with meditations on things as simple as the work of sanding down a piece of wood. I’m new to his work, but I’m ready to declare him the real thing – someone who can stand up to, say, Ken Bruen, with whom he is often compared.
There are some limits brought on by the genre, though. Above all, I’m never satisfied with Marie’s answer for staying in Belfast. A point is a point, but when they’re threatening your daughter and they’re willing to pay your way somewhere else, why stick around? She may not belong in Belfast, and that may be part of the legitimate local critique of the work. (That is, Belfast’s recent generations have driven away much of what might be “the good.”) But I can’t help feeling she stays more for the needs of the story than in keeping with the character Neville draws for her.
The end of this is a satisfying showdown, but the very end troubles me. I’d give a spoiler alert, but the fact that this is the first novel in a series does that for me: Fegan is a powerful character, and he bears the weight of his ghosts with a dignity (and palpable insanity) that makes him memorable. The trouble is, he’s also necessarily a doomed one. He should not survive this, yet he does, and apparently he goes on to multiple further adventures. That’s a shame. Neville has invented someone remarkable at the heart of this book. I wish he’d trusted himself to invent someone else for another one rather than violating the emotional premise of this one.
Books are for dreaming with eyes wide open.
Brutal, suspenseful, dark, original, violent, twisted are all words that come to mind about this book! I'm glad it's book one of a series, although I may need something a bit lighter before starting the next one. Listened for 2 straight days it was so good! Gerald Doyle is simply amazing! I've listened to several Irish thrillers now just to listen to him speak for hours!
Having been to Belfast in the last year, I found that this novel evoked the tension of the past and the simmering anger that maybe still underlies the peace. Fagen is haunted by twelve ghosts who demand that he kills those who made Fegan kill them during the troubles. The pointless deaths of innocents become a haunting angry crew who demand that Fegan become their agent for justice. The machinations of the political front and behind the scenes operators of the IRA get shrewdly and brutally evoked in a solid crime thriller. The narration by Gerald Doyle is excellent capturing different voices, different classes, and balancing the hard edge with the tender.
I don't know I very rarely listen to any book twice
the dog fights
The entire book is very moving.
While set in Northern Ireland I wonder if the what to do with guys who have been trained and live to kill might be true of any place.?