Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Quick: "Ghosts of Belfast" by Stuart Neville

Quick: Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville, 2009, 9781569476000.

I zipped through this one.  With the library renovation we had to pack away most of the adult fic and nonfic.  I filled a big wooden cart, loaned from the movers, for temp shelving.  I went through the stacks to grab a selection of titles and caught this one.  Anthony Neil Smith did his usual "this is fantastic" online mention for Neville's Ratlines so I tried this out and liked it.

I read reviews for Ghosts when it came out.  The reviews were good but the main character sees ghosts.  The mention of ghost kept me away because it sounded schmaltzy or half-assed-ghost-story-ish. 

Gerry Fegan is a former IRA soldier.  He did twelve years in the Maze and was released with the Good Friday agreements.  He now has a no-show job courtesy of the IRA and has spent the last five years drinking like a fish.  Gerry was a shooter, bomber, and all around soldier for the IRA.  Gerry has blood on his hands.  Gerry has blood on his mind.  Gerry's guilt has manifested itself as the "ghosts" of the twelve people he was responsible for killing. 

Heck, Gerry has always seen "ghosts".  The novel never explains if this is a mental illness but Gerry recalls talking to his mother about it as a child and his mother getting super angry at him.  Since then Gerry has always ignored those visions.  Now The Twelve follow him everywhere, are vividly real, and never speak.  The Twelve do scream in pain and horror though and Gerry is going nuts from it.

Gerry is at the local pub when an IRA politician and Gerry's overseer comes in.  One of the men ghosts makes pistol motions with his hand at the boss's head.  Gerry figures the ghost will disappear if Gerry kills the IRA guy.  Gerry does.

Gerry kills another IRA guy and is suspected by IRA bosses  Gerry goes to the IRA funerals and is hot for one of the dead guy's nieces.  A British undercover is tasked to find out who killed the IRA guys.  Gerry and Undercover have a history that includes murder.  More things happen.  Tension rises.  Niece had married a Brit and was ostracized but protected by her uncle.  Since Uncle is dead the Niece is told to take her daughter and leave Northern Ireland.  Gerry wants to protect the Niece.  Gerry is on the run. Gerry is helping the Niece and her daughter.  Gerry kills more people.  Gerry finds a resolution for himself and the Niece.

1.  Everyone time I read the author's name I think of Neville Shute.
2.  This was first published overseas with the title The Twelve.
3.  I was published overseas as a robot.  Bzz whirr whirr click-click.
4.  I read novels about drunks and am always glad I am not one.  If I have more than a couple drinks in the evening I wake up feeling rotten.
5.  Many bad, bad dudes.  Dudes with no reservations about torture or murder.  Dudes who run dog fights.  Dudes who bomb children and make excuses.  Dudes who import drugs and underage prostitutes.

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