As he's working his way down the list, he encounters a woman who may offer him redemption; she has borne a child to an RUC officer and is an outsider too. Now he has given Fate - and his quarry - a hostage. Is this Fegan's ultimate mistake?
©2009 Stuart Neville; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"Stuart Neville's debut novel about the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland is harsh, brutal, and unrelentingly grim. With spare, crisp dialogue, and a gift for turning an Irish phrase, Neville plants himself firmly in Adrian McKinty territory. And who better to narrate than Gerard Doyle? Doyle gets it—and so do we. His whine; his growl; his rough yet sensitive, always-passionate performance gives everything a listener could want from an audiobook." (AudioFile)
"With this stunning debut, Neville joins a select group of Irish writers, including Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes, and Adrian McKinty, who have reinvigorated the noir tradition with a Celtic edge." (Publishers Weekly)
retired litigation lawyer; I read history; historical fiction; literary fiction. Narrator ++ important. Story equally so
I do not normally read ( listen to) either crime stories or ghost stories, and bought this on a whim as a vacation read ( something different). What a compelling story. Notwithstanding there are ghosts, and violence, Neville had me hooked and actually caring about what would happen to the main character, a murderer for the IRA. The language ( clear vivid word-pictures) the story ( how politics replaced the IRA tactics of intimidation) and the plot ( which proceeds in a straight and predictable line but still leaves you interested in how it will play out) were all terrific. Excellent narration by Doyle, whom I did not care for in the beginning but did, significantly, by the end.
I listened to "Angel Time" by Anne Rice, with a (somewhat) similar theme, hit man years later trying to make amends. With respect to Ms Rice, whom I like, " Ghosts of Belfast" is -by far - a much, much better book
I've been looking for a story that's original and gripping and will give me the escape I crave. 'The Ghosts of Belfast' scores big time!
Neville kept my curiosity both piqued and satisfied throughout. If I were to sketch the plot it would sound ludicrous and a maybe a bit implausible but every word rings true from the first paragraph. It can't really be classified as a ghost story lest one think of Stephen King. Neville's ghosts are more real and more motivated.
As a bonus, I inadvertently learned quite a bit about the true politics and culture of Ireland, especially during the turmoil in the 70's.
Grabbed this one from out of the blue. Tightly written, taut, informative, believable, highly strung characters, all rendered by a top-notch narrator (how does he keep all those terrific impersonations apart?) My best of the year...and that's saying something!
Narrative makes the world go round.
There are plentiful Audible reviews already for this, but I would like to qualify the violence and "ghost" elements in the novel.
I purchased this for its setting, but once I saw reader reviews, pushed it aside as way too violent for my tastes; however, I eventually tried it because of the storyline of Neville's newly released Ratlines, wondering if I could stomach his style.
If you are interested in the storyline but put off by the violence, know the novel IS violent but not in a sensational "screenplay-hopeful" choreographed way. It flows from and with the plot, and although frequent and sometimes graphic, is not gratuitous. Neville is not subtle in manipulating reader sympathies by making some killings seem "justified" but portraying situations as black/white, but this unfolds in a very believable manner with good characters and absorbing plot-- plus he puts you right in Belfast mid decade '00-'10. He is able to give backstory to the social-political without being pedantic, so whatever your familiarity with the setting, I think the story is clear. I think by showing the effects of a violent act on those around it, rather than drawing the reader into either the victim or perpetrator PoV exclusively, Neville is a more authentic writer and avoids the "wince" effect I dislike.
I had postponed the listen also because I thought it might have a paranormal element: that is not the case, either.
The narration is in lovely, rich Irish English, but the reader enunciates clearly enough I think even for listeners who do not like regional accents.
Through the psychological struggle (insanity?) of the central character, Stuart Neville brilliantly captures the rough edges of the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland. He does a great job painting the backdrop -- how criminality became "freedom fighting" or "loyalism," then morphed back into racketeering as the peace process took hold in a post 9/11 world.
I used to spend childhood summers in Northern Ireland during the 1960s and early 70s, so I was particularly alert for flaws in authenticity. If there were any, I missed them.
The narrator, Gerard Doyle, is excellent -- superbly capturing both the nuances of the psychosis of the main character and the Belfast brogue. He seamlessly transitions between condescending Whitehall officials and Belfast thugs.
Given the death toll, this book is not for the squeamish or for listening with youngsters in the car. The detail is certainly designed to make the reader/listener uncomfortable -- and ultimately how I was drawn into the head of the central character.
In summary, an excellent yarn, very well produced as an audiobook.
It shows how an idealistic cause can degenerate into a gangsterism that comes from believing that the means and ends are not the same.
A am a hard core romance junkie. With that said, this is not a romance, I have no idea why I decided to purchase it, it was a moment of whimsy. I am glad for that moment, this story thought a bit slow in the beginning, became an addiction, my headset didn't leave me until the story finished. Not only because of the story itself; yet, also because of the narration. There is nothing worse then listening t a badly narrated story. I will not give you any particulars on the story itself other then to say- challenge yourself look for clues in the story- Is he mad or truly haunted? You wont regret finding out.
You could feel the dull grey skies and the damp mood throughout the book. The characters were raw to me, sometimes I had to turn my head away from my own visualizations. A strong piece of work..a different kind of look at the struggle Ireland went through. The intertwining pain,guilt and absolute evil in the small cast of characters. The realities are not romanced here. Its worth the read.
This is a terrific listen. Gerard Doyle has a wonderful voice, with accents from various parts of Ireland and from Scotland and England as well. The story describes an attempt at personal redemption on the part of an ex-IRA partisan, a man with considerable blood on his hands, who decides -- partly under the influence of the ghosts of his victims, who haunt him -- to settle accounts with the people who "ran" him. It's an incredibly violent story, at an R-rating level if such things existed for books, and it wouldn't be a good choice for the squeamish. A knockout ending. I wish more of Neville's books were available on Audible.
This is a decent story, not great. It seems to have a simple premise - guy must make amends for the wrongs he has done. It has some interesting twists. If you are not familiar with Northern Ireland the the struggles there, you might not enjoy this story. If your Irish you will enjoy it.
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