The Ghosts of Belfast (Jack Lennon Investigations #1)
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The Ghosts of Belfast (Jack Lennon Investigations #1)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,927 ratings  ·  478 reviews
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 twelve 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 encount...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Soho Crime (first published 2009)
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Kemper
As children we’re all told that there are no such thing as ghosts. However, when a former hitman for the IRA starts seeing the victims of his murders and seeking revenge for them, it doesn’t much matter whether they’re real or not because if he decides that someone is responsible for their demise, that person will get a chance to investigate the after-life first hand in the very near future.

Gerry Fegan was once a feared and respected killer for the Irish cause, but while serving a long stretch i...more
Lou
A very well done debut.
With praise from the likes of James Ellroy on the cover you couldn't go wrong.
He was right it does hooks you in also it has a twist of supernatural. There are twelve ghosts, there was twelve innocents that died over a number of years at the hands of politicians and group members. There was battles and fighting for independence, but the twelve were innocent bystanders that got caught in the trail of fire. One by one the ghosts of the dead want revenge delivered and the twe...more
Ted
The Ghosts of Belfast review, Part I
Part II http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
Part III http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
Part IV http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


This first-novel thriller by Stuart Neville, which has won many awards and plaudits, was a heart-pounding read. I would have finished it in two days, but late the second night, with maybe 40 pages to go, I just wasn’t able to handle those last 40 pages, couldn’t bear to continue reading at that hour, mostly because...more
Ed
Aug 05, 2011 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardboiled fans, esp. with an Irish flavor
Recommended to Ed by: Picked up at the library
This gritty, haunted crime novel is one of the best debuts I've read in a long time. Gerry Fegan, an ace enforcer in the IRA does a 12-stint prison stint before he's released to live with the twelve "ghosts" of his murder victims. What impresses me is the deft way the supernatural element is stitched into the narrative's fabric. Perhaps going mad, Fegan feels driven to serve as the twelve's avenger of the higher ups who ordered their hits. He performs his grisly mission in efficient but violent...more
James Thane
Stuart Neville, who formerly worked as a hand double for a "well-known Irish comedian," has written a brilliant, atmospheric first novel set against the continuing "troubles" in Northern Ireland.

In the public eye at least, the men who fought the brutal battles of the long struggle have now given way to the politicians and peace is in the wind. But behind the scenes there are still scores to be settled and discipline to be maintained. Additionally, some of the men who might have once been ideali...more
Mike
Jan 28, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Especially for readers of crime, noir, Irish fiction,
Recommended to Mike by: A Barnes & Noble Nook Find of the Day
Stewart Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast: One Paddy's Lamentation


"I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.


From Easter, 1916, William Butler Yeats

The words of Yeats capture the tone of The Ghosts of Be...more
Andi Marquette
I have a story about this book. I was visiting NYC recently, and was on my way to dinner in Brooklyn with a comrade. We had parked the car and we were going to walk the couple of blocks to the restaurant. On that walk, I stopped at a brownstone because whoever lived at this particular house had put 3 books outside by the small wrought iron fence that served as a boundary between it and the public sidewalk. In NYC (and probably lots of other cities), when people want to get rid of things -- i.e.,...more
David
Oct 27, 2011 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard men, Irish
This is a violent, bloody novel where the violence and bloodshed actually serves a purpose, rather than just trying to shock the reader. It's a revenge story, a political thriller, and a tale of redemption, with the main character being a former IRA thug who's now trying to atone for his past crimes. His atonement, however, consists of killing a lot more people, because the ghosts of his former victims won't leave him alone until he does.

The question of whether the ghosts are real or only in Ger...more
Cathleen
What we humans do to one another….

“If there’s peace, if it’s really over, then what use are we?” asks a fellow prisoner of Gerry Fegan, an IRA foot soldier, serving his time in the Maze prison. Both Fegan and the other man know that when all of the political parties agree to a peace process, they will be released, and with that, they’ll have to create new selves and to dissolve whatever their past was.

But how do you “un-become” what you had been: a terrorist, a freedom fighter, a murderer, a...more
Gatorman
This debut from Neville is one of the best crime fiction novels I have read in a long time. Smart, tough characters and an interesting premise are handled brilliantly by Neville, who writes dialogue with the best of them. This book had me hooked from beginning to end. The violence was unflinching and added a powerful punch to the narrative. The details of Northern Ireland's social and political struggles never suffocated the story and served as an important backdrop for the motivations of many o...more
Stephanie
I had written a nice little review for this one but it got swallowed by the ether...

Anyway, what I wanted to say was this was a good story about a killer for the IRA and how he tries to make it up to the people he killed. Great noir, recommended!

I just noticed that this is called "Jack Lennon Investigations #1" but I have no clue who Jack Lennon is. He wasn't really part of this story at all. I can't even place him. Hmmm...
Laurel
One of the many benefits of Goodreads membership is that you are free to discover authors and books that take you outside of your comfort zone, if you so choose. Reading Stuart Neville's first thriller/crime novel certainly does that in spades! I chose this book for a variety of reasons. It has multiple award nominations for a first novel, glowing reviews from authors I admire and Goodread friends whose opinions I respect. Plus, I needed a book set in Ireland for a challenge. This is set in post...more
Tony
Neville, Stuart. THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST. (2009). ****1/2. Here’s a first novel that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the end. It’s a thriller from Irish writer Neville that is being widely hailed as the “best first novel in ten years.” I don’t know about that, but it is very good indeed. The author has a grasp of how best to plot to keep the reader turning the pages, but not in the mindless ways of most thrillers. It’s the story of Fegen, an IRA killer in Northern Ireland who has...more
Caitlin
I'm not entirely sure how I've gone so long without reading this book or knowing about this author. This is wonderful noir fiction set in post-Troubles Ireland and it will quietly remind you again and again how awful things were before the Good Friday peace accord. No one's hands are clean. We so often think only of Muslim extremists when we think of terrorism and forget Oklahoma City and the IRA and the white supremacist movements. We don't have a clue about colonialism (neo- or not). Imperiali...more
Skip
Gerry Fegan, a former IRA hit man, has finally been paroled but drinks heavily because he is haunted by the ghosts of the 12 people he killed. He finally embarks on a mission to kill the men who gave him his orders to escape his demons; the book is cleverly separated into chapters, starting with 12 and reducing as he kills off those in the militant IRA underworld, who believe he is a babbling, useless drunk and a liability to their movement. Somewhat incongruent with the rest of the story, Fegan...more
Mohammed
This is easily the best crime novel debut i have read in years. Brutal, emotional strong and very believable story. The Northern Ireland setting, troubles was well used. Gerry Fegan was a very strong character, he was fascinating to read about in a mad, scary way. The real world darkness, evil of many of the shady characters in the novel is much darker read than gory, not too real serial murder novels.

On the minus side i would say the action or violent scenes could have been written better excep...more
Alberto
The idea for the book is very original. So good, actually, that it makes any other storyline secondary. But then after the second victim you know the formula is going to be repeated once and again till the end making the story way too predictable and unnecessarily long. It would’ve made a solid 200 pages novel instead of a 400 one, using three ghosts instead of twelve. Also I would’ve prefered a sad or unexpected ending.
Mal Warwick
A Grim Story of War and Betrayal in Northern Ireland

You may never have read a murder mystery like this one. The protagonist, Gerry Fegan, is a former hit man for the IRA responsible for the deaths of twelve people (the “ghosts” of the title), and it’s never much of a mystery when he begins killing again. The mystery lies deeper, somewhere in the vicinity of his stunted family life and the treacherous relationships among the others in his violence-prone faction.

As Fegan reflects, “You can’t choos...more
Rob Kitchin
The Twelve has attracted a lot of praise for its gritty portrayal of post-conflict Northern Ireland. And the praise is well merited. The writing is taught and economical, with each chapter crafted like a toned short story and the pages just kept turning. Neville balances excellent characterization with a deep appreciation of the politics, landscape and legacy of The Troubles; how the past casts a shadow of violence and distrust that the light of democratic politics can never fully erase; how whi...more
Sandi
I haven’t heard anything about Belfast, Northern Ireland for a long time. Up until 1998, it was pretty much a war zone. I remember news stories about terrorist bombings and gun battles in the streets. When I was growing up, terrorism was synonymous with the IRA, not radical Islam. So what’s been happening in Belfast since peace was declared? According to this novel, the former terrorists are running the government. And, they’re still a bunch of thugs.

Gerry Fegan is a former IRA assassin and cur...more
Tim Niland
Fegan was a hit man for the IRA. During the height of The Troubles he killed a dozen people including women and children. Now out of prison, he drinks to try to get peace, but the spirits of the 12 people he killed follow him night and day, and will not allow him a moments peace. Are they only in his mind, or do they really walk beside him? He comes to realize that there is only one way to make these ghosts stop tormenting him: by taking revenge on the leaders of the movement that ordered the ki...more
Beth
Some people like to read about travel and some people like to read about violence. Some people like romance and some people like torture. Neville excels in writing about torture and violence and has used the Irish conflict as his rationale. The book doesn’t pretend to deal with the complexities of the Irish situation, nor does it pretend to create characters one cares for (even the most positive reviews on Amazon pointed that out). For people who seek non-stop action with lots of blood (teeth ta...more
Marleen
My rating for this book is actually 3.5*.
This is a very violent thriller set in modern day Belfast.
A former IRA hitman is followed by the 12 ghosts of people he has killed in the past.
The ghosts insist he kills those who set them up for their deaths, and as he does so, the ghosts retreat one by one.
This was a well written book and very much a page turner.
It was also a book in which not a single character had any redeeming characteristics. Violence, corruption and betrayal were in evidence everyw...more
Maicie
Generally, I’m not a fan of dick lit. The first mention of military, war (foreign or domestic) or espionage and the book is put aside. But I completely enjoyed this book and polished it off in a couple of sittings.

Fegan was a soldier in the IRA. He was responsible for many deaths: some deserved, others not. Now he is being haunted by twelve of his innocent victims. They won’t leave Fegan alone until he has killed the men who gave him his orders.

There are ghosts, a whole bunch of bad guys, some g...more
Johnny
Beautifully written, haunting (literally) story. One of the best first novels that I've read in a long time, written with confidence and compassion.

A very original and violent approach to post-Troubles Belfast. A story of redemption, mercy, and justice. It retains its creepiness throughout, while at the same time maintaining its humanity.

A powerful, unforgettable read.
Robin
In a different league to most thrillers – and it's Neville first book. A washed-up Belfast hitman, Fegan, is haunted by the 12 he murdered. Then they want him to take revenge on those who ordered him to kill… Tender, brutal and completely compelling. Fegan emerges as an almost mythic figure of vengeance.
Pardesi
The genre of this book is “thriller,” and I would not try to squeeze it into any other categories. As a thriller, I am giving it four stars (really about 3.5, but I'm rounding up here). As anything else it would merit maybe 2.5 stars. The writing itself is quite good, the characters have some dimension, but not much depth and no development. The story is engrossing and keeps one turning the pages.

The plot is not complicated. Gerry Fegan, a former IRA soldier/killer, recently released from the Ma...more
Nick
"The Ghosts of Belfast" is an Irish entry in Soho's estimable series of crime novels set around the world--everywhere from Inuit lands to Laos. Men (and the occasional woman as in Cara Black's series in Paris) walk down these foreign mean streets who are not usually themselves mean. The best of these books impart a bit of local color and even culture along with their suspense. "The Ghosts of Belfast" has locally colorful Irish crime in spades--my favorite is the scam on government fuel that is r...more
Catherine
Oct 17, 2009 Catherine rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catherine by: Library Journal review
Shelves: ireland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christopher Everest
Jeff Abbott writes in the information on the back of the book says that this is "an astonishing debut. Brilliantly conceived, masterfully written; both a heart-pounding thriller and a stunning examination of responsibility and revenge." He is absolutely right. It is not the kind of book I normally buy (The troubles in Northern Ireland lie well within my memory and not I would have thought, fodder for fiction, however sensitively depicted).However I bought it, I imagine, thinking it was like The...more
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2880615
I have been a musician, a composer, a teacher, a salesman, a film extra, a baker and a hand double for a well known Irish comedian, but I'm currently a partner in a successful multimedia design business in the wilds of Northern Ireland.

I have published short stories in Thuglit, Electric Spec and Every Day Fiction. THE TWELVE is my first novel, and will be published in the UK and Commonwealth by Ha...more
More about Stuart Neville...
Collusion (Jack Lennon Investigations #2) Ratlines Stolen Souls (Jack Lennon Investigations #3) Collusion/Ghosts Of Belfast Bundle The Six

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“Hate is a terrible thing. It's a wasteful, stupid emotion. You can hate someone with all your heart, but it'll never do them a bit of harm. The only person it hurts is you. You can spend your days hating, letting it eat away at you, and the person you hate will go on living just the same. So, what's the point?” 11 likes
“You can't choose where you belong, and where you don't. But what if the place you don't belong is the only place you have left?” 6 likes
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