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Resurrection Man

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  340 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Victor Kelly is the resurrection man, a violent and ruthless Protestant killer roaming the streets of Belfast in the 1970s. In this, his brilliant and shocking debut novel, Eoin McNamee announced his arrival as one of the leading chroniclers of Ireland's fractured past. ...more
Paperback, 233 pages
Published 2004 by Faber (first published January 1st 1995)
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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 ·  340 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Nick Davies
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
A very impressive and very affecting novel - telling of the dark and grim happenings of sectarian violence in 1970s Belfast, this reminded me of some of the 'Red Riding' series of novels by David Peace - similarly unpleasant and violent, highly realistic, writing of great powerfulness. Some of the similes in this were wonderful, it was highly descriptive without ever getting tied down in pointless describing, and it certainly had an impact on me as a rider.

Only a four though, because I didn't 'e
Stephen Buggy
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
It gets better in the second half is all that can be said for it.

The real life Shankhill Butchers story is dripping with symbolism and horror. I am not sure if McNamee adds much to the story. He refuses to take Loyalist self-justifications at all seriously and swerves immediately to describing their beliefs explicitly as fascism. I understand he may have been nervous of acting as a mouthpiece for vile propaganda but by failing to explain the Butchers' motivations in their own terms he makes thei
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the third of Eoin McNamee's I have read, and while 'enjoyed' seems an odd word to use, I did so more than the others.
The contrast between the beautiful language it is told in - especially Heather's part - and the horrific activities, especially given that much of what is described must be based on known fact, is compelling. Victor and his compatriots feel like an alien species; Belfast a far-distant place, and it is the knowledge that circumstances brought them to this, circumstances I
Oct 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: college, 2005
This is the story of the Resurrection Man, a violent and ruthless sectarian killer who roams the streets of 1970s Belfast. McNamee's novel illuminates the political map of Belfast and dark ring-roads of collective memory. Based on the Shankill Butcher Killings.

This book can be very brutal in its detail of the murders. This, I imagine, does not even measure to how brutal the actual murders were. This book is sad and hard to read at some points, but it is also a very powerful read.
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
McNamee's writing puts you on the dangerous streets of Belfast. It is a violent time with a terrorist on the loose. In spite of being bleak, it is very enthralling and the poetic cadence of the author's writing keeps you mesmerized until the end. ...more
May 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
I first read this one years back, when I was 15 or so, and I remember liking it then. Rereading it now, I really think I missed out on just how incredible the writing is. This is beautifully written, almost like poetry in some places, which is not something I usually like but it really works here. It's also a lot funnier than I remember, in the dark, kind of dry way that I remember from when I used to live not so far from where the story is set. It definitely has the atmosphere down right; the d ...more
Jul 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
Read this book when it was first issued (I was given it to review). Wanted to like it but thought it completely horrid, and I say that about few books. Partially my detestation is because I found to be so lazy. It sketched a state of mind in the midst of the Troubles but had absolutely no surrounding detail -- events, evocation of place, any hint at a bigger picture. Seemed like the author, without having done any research, just free wrote, making it some extended riff on an uninteresting two-di ...more
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
I would put this at two and a half stars, and here's why: Initially, McNamee's writing reminded me of Esquire writer-at-large Tom Chiarella's, which I hate. I would describe this style of writing as overly rhetorical, indiscriminately mixing slang and archaisms, and prone to vague metaphor. I find it self-indulgent and irritating. With that said, there is rhythm to McNamee's writing that isn't present in Chiarella's. Reviewer John Banville describes it as a "dreamy, poetic immediacy." I would de ...more
Set in Belfast during the 1970s, it follows the life and career of Vincent Kelly, the leader of a group of killers. It also portrays the effect that he and his deeds had on those close to him, his mother's unending denial and belief in her boy's innocence, his lover's descent into depression, the fear his very name generates in the community, and the betrayals that ultimately lead to his downfall. ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. I learned about Ireland and some sad elements of man's nature. ...more
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
brutal killings in Belfast - I must have read the best 2 pages when I flicked through this in the bookshop.

Roger Cottrell
Oct 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
A chilling insight into the mentality of the Shankhill Butchers (as a novel) by my external examiner from the Irish National Film School.
Nov 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
A painful reminder of The Troubles.
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly good read, captivating and fast paced. The similarities with the real-life Shankill Butchers and Lenny Murphy make this book all the more poignant.
Jan 30, 2009 rated it liked it
It was an excellently written book, the character of Victor Kelly was terrifying. I found myself almost sympathizing with him despite his horrid deeds.
Dora Okeyo
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
This book gave me the creeps- I mean it's a dark story. ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ryan stopped. He realised that Coppinger and himself had always talked like this, exchanging observations about the city, developing small themes and drawing then out to their limits. It was an attempt to create new levels, to resist the city's defintion of itself as violent, divisive, pitiful.
He knew that there were also depths of parody in these conversations, a sideshow for good-humoured crowds at the place of execution.

Calling Eoin McNammee the Irish Cormac McCarthy notwithstanding,
This was a hard book to read because it felt very dry to me, in fact I did say that I was reading purely to finish reading it rather than for pleasure. But somewhere after the half-way point I got into this - not fully, I still dislike the way it was written, but I got into the way the story was told, hints here and there, people crossing paths and the effect that has on them further down the line.

I can see why this book was praised for the way it portrays the troubles between the Catholics and
Ned Thacker
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, irish
Set in Belfast at the time of the Shankill Butchers, this novel is grimly realistic while probing a mysterious underlying meaning to the city.
“The city itself has withdrawn into its placenames. Palestine Street. Balaklava Street. The names of captured ports, lost battles, forgotten outposts held against inner darkness. There is a sense of collapsed trade and accumulate decline. In its names alone the city holds commerce with itself, a furtive levying of tariffs in the shadow.”
Gripping and unset
John Fullerton
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Extraordinary in so many ways; extraordinarily dark and twisted, vicious and cruel, extreme black humour, extraordinarily lyrical (occasionally the author's style staggers off, full of itself and out of control). All in all, though, beautifully written. Belfast noir, a city at its worst. Gave me the shivers, and at times, almost overwhelmed by a strong sense of disgust. Not for the squeamish or faint-hearted. I will read more of his novels for sure. ...more
Kris McCracken
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the more viscerally brutal novels that I have read in quite a while. Given that this is quite closely based on real events, it makes the story - detailing a particularly brutal gang of 'loyalist' thugs in 1970s Belfast - all the more chilling.

Not at all for the faint-hearted, but it is worth the trip down a very dark alleyway...
Steve Gillway
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, crime, brexity
I was alerted to this book by the Guardian - a list of 10 books about "the troubles" in Northern Ireland. This book really portrays the violence and gangsterism of the time and I can see how frightening the prospect of this returning is. It just shows what Brexit could lead to in Ireland. ...more
Ciara Begley
May 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Excellent and well written. Captured the power of fear and violence and their devastation. Overwhelmed me frequently with the extent of the violence. Does not hold back, not for the faint hearted and not to be read by anyone struggling. Bleakest aspects of humanity laid painfully bare.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
The Resurrection Man is a mentally ill and ruthless Protestant killing civilians arbitrarily in 1970s Belfast.
Mcnamee's debut doesn't have a hero or a resolution but his characters are aware that they are performing violence for the media. Even though I didn't enjoy this bleak novel, I found it's fragmented nature very clever.
Is there such a thing as a 'good' or 'bad' book? Or should reading go beyond 'I liked it'?
Christopher Owens
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favourite book of all time. Conjures up an atmosphere and intensity that is second to none.
Chris Brown
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My favorite novel about the Troubles
Kate Zimmerbaum
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fictionalized version of The Shankhill Butchers - well written - grim
Mar 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Quite shocking. A taste of the troubles.
Jane O'shaughnessy
Didn't t finish this book, after a few chapters I realized it was a little to violent for me! ...more
Sep 20, 2018 added it
Shelves: ireland
Gloomy and violent i,nteresting writing his style.
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McNamee was awarded a Macaulay Fellowship for Irish Literature in 1990, after his 1989 novella The Last of Deeds (Raven Arts Press, Dublin), was shortlisted for the 1989 Irish Times/Aer Lingus Award for Irish Literature. The author currently lives in Ireland with his wife and two children, Owen and Kathleen.

He also writes as John Creed.

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  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
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