Catherine's Reviews > The Ghosts of Belfast

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville
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Oct 17, 09

bookshelves: ireland
Recommended to Catherine by: Library Journal review
Read in October, 2009

** spoiler alert ** The Ghosts of Belfast (simultaneously published in Great Britain as The Twelve) is a well-paced crime novel that kept me interested until (almost) the end. It starts out solid and...stays pretty solid. But I felt disappointed by the time I finished, and I think that the problem was that it started solidly enough that there was the potential for it to get really, really good, but instead the premise just played itself out.

Gerry Fegan, former IRA heavy, is now haunted by the ghosts of the twelve people he killed. And now, in exchange for leaving him in peace, they want him to kill various members of the Belfast syndicate they hold responsible. Gripping so far, but the nagging question I had as this plot starts to unfold was, will the ghosts of these newly-murdered people join those haunting him? That's where I expected a twist that would make the book amazingly complex and mirror the political situation today, but it didn't happen, and why it didn't remained a question.

I also liked the only woman character (aside from a few incidentals), Marie, but she never got to be anything more than a love interest and was conveniently unconscious for the climax. And why did every woman in the book have to be a mother figure? Obviously a motif, but to what purpose? Marie's young daughter is exposed to some serious violence and danger, but the novel gives no weight to what will likely be life-long consequences for her. The female characters are given short shrift.

It will be interesting to see whether this novel will hold up in ten or fifteen years or whether it's too tied to the current Northern Ireland climate. According to the author bio on the dust jacket, a series will follow this book, and I'm not sure where it will go from here, but I'm hoping that Neville will give a little more play to his writing talent and allow more unpredictability.
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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter The newly-murdered people would not haunt Gerry as, in his mind, they had it coming. The other ghosts had no quarrel with Gerry prior to them being dispatched to the other side.

Hadn't noticed that the female characters are given short shrift but I will give it some thought.


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