Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Ghosts of Belfast and a bit of Collusion

I'd just read Stuart Neville's second novel, Collusion, so I thought I'd take a look back at his first, The Ghosts of Belfast, also known as The Twelve.

Boy, this one has some good, withering sarcasm about Northern Ireland, its politics and its people. This may be the funniest, but its humor is of a bitter kind:

"Another mural declared Catalonia was not part of Spain. Fegan couldn't say it was or it wasn't, but he sometimes wondered what it had to do with anyone on the Falls."
And this may be more daring because it runs the risk of going over the top and breaking the mood:

"Anderson shook his head. `You're insane.'

"`I know. But I'm getting better all the time.'

"Fegan pulled the trigger."
I'd bet Neville giggled when he wrote that, then maybe had second thoughts. But I'm glad he kept it. In any case, The Ghosts of Belfast is a harrowing book whose action leaves Fegan just one way out, though that way may not be what you think.
Collusion is due in August in the U.K. from Harvill Secker and October in the U.S. from Soho Crime. Its universe is the same as The Ghosts of Belfast's, though this time the protagonist is a police officer, Jack Lennon, rather than the haunted former Republican killer Fegan.

The first book aims righteous anger at self-proclaimed freedom fighters as it tells Fegan's harrowing tale. The second book's target is official corruption as it tells Lennon's. The righteous anger of both is a hard, blunt literary instrument. And that's good. Very good.
P.S. Hmm, "getting better all the time;" Jack Lennon, who angrily tells other characters not to call him John ... If I read Neville's books backwards, do they spell out: "Paul is dead"?

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Looking forward to reading "Collusion". I read the first chapter and it was a great start.

July 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The finish is also good, and the middle isn't bad, either. I suppose litery types might look down on the book, though, because Lennon is a cop with a messed-up love life who has problems with his superiors. So conventional.

July 07, 2010  

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