Stuart Neville, THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST
THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST is the first book in a series of four called The Belfast novels. The fourth, THE FINAL SILENCE, was nominated for this year’s Edgar Award for best novel. The protagonist in his book is Gerry Fegan, a long-time member of the IRA in Belfast who is haunted by the ghosts of those he has killed. These specters are demanding that he destroy those who were responsible for giving the orders that led to their deaths. This obviously puts Fegan at cross purposes with his former associates who want to let the past bury the past and get on with making money in the new. more peaceful, Northern Ireland.
Neville accomplishes the doubly difficult task of making a morally reprehensible, borderline schizophrenic an appealing character. This is possible because many of the other characters are even worse and because we come to understand the forces that shaped Fegan, making him into the flawed misfit that he is.
This is not a mystery in the sense that there is a puzzle to be solved, but the tension builds as we wonder whether Gerry will survive in these last days of Irish terrorism. This is an excellent novel and will be enjoyed by all those who are not made uncomfortable by its gritty realism.