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Publisher's Summary

Fegan has been a "hard man" - an IRA killer in Northern Ireland. Now that peace has come, he is being haunted day and night by 12 ghosts: a mother and infant, a schoolboy, a butcher, an RUC constable, and seven other of his innocent victims. In order to appease them, he's going to have to kill the men who gave him orders.

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.

Critic Reviews

  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Mystery / Thriller, 2010
  • Notable Crime Books of 2009 (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times)
  • The Year’s Most Mesmerizing Mysteries (Maureen Corrigan, NPR)

"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)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

What an unexpected good read!

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

5 stars

62 of 63 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible!

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.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

"Freedom Fighting" to Racketeering

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.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

You've love this Story

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.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Original and gripping...

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.

62 of 67 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 01-05-13

don't judge by its cover

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.

82 of 90 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cary
  • Napa, CA, United States
  • 11-09-09

Gripping and exceedingly well told

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!

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

bloodthirsty

This is a riveting book brilliantly narrated. However, it is not a book for the faint hearted, The violence is horrific and terrifyingly real. If you don't like horror don't get this book. But if you can enjoy blood and guts then certainly you won't be disappointed. This has more bodies than Hamlet and is more bloodthirsty than No Country for Old Men. Enjoy.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dave
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 11-08-09

Amazing narration

I agree with most of the reviews here, i.e. that this novel is an amazing debut by Stuart Neville. This author is going to be one of the greats. What I really want to say is that from an audible book point of view Gerard Doyle is a fantastic narrator. It can not be overstated how much a good narrator brings to the experience of an audio book. I enjoy Michael Connelly's books but half of the Audible narrators used for Connellys's books are terrible. *PLEASE* Audible, use more narrators like Gerard Doyle and Peter Giles.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Sebastian Barry meets William Boyd

Thanks to Janice, who reviewed this book and addressed the issue of the violence. I might not have taken a chance on this without her review. I agree that the violence is not gratuitous and that what is there is necessary. This is a suspenseful thriller with a lot of history and a lot of depth. The protagonist is coming to terms with what he did during Ireland's Troubles, trying to put things right so that he can go on with his life. I don't want to say too much about how he goes about this, but it's a great story. Stuart Neville uses the kind of history and emotional depth found in Sebastian Barry's works, and puts them into a thriller worthy of William Boyd's Restless and Ordinary Thunderstorms. The writing is very good and the characters are very much alive, sometimes uncomfortably so.

Gerard Doyle's narration is excellent and he keeps the characters so clear and vivid that I forgot I was listening to one person.

I will definitely look for more by both Stuart Neville and Gerard Doyle.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • G. B. Venus
  • 10-20-16

Gerard knows how to tell them!

I tried this book on the back of the Sean Duffy series by Adrian McKinty which I loved. I was very impressed in how Gerard Doyles narrative brought each book to life.

The Ghosts of Belfast had exactly that at the start, ghosts and it was in Belfast. at first I thought this could be a bit ridiculous however the way in which the ghost aspect of the story played out was chilling and very effective. The story had me gripped from start to finish. growing up in Belfast myself, I felt it captured the scene and gritty fearless personalities well.

Highly recommended and I can't wait to start my next Stuart Neville adventure!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Pete
  • 10-04-18

Really great.

Years ago my English teacher gave me "The Sniper" to read. A short story based in the conflict. I remembered that again and came looking for a book from that conflict. I just randomly chose this one. It didn't disappoint. I loved "the followers" concept.