Thursday, July 18, 2013

Zip: "Collusion" by Stuart Neville

Zip: Collusion by Stuart Neville, 2010, 9781569478554.

I enjoyed this and zipped through the book.

A sequel, of sorts, to The Ghosts of Belfast.  This time Neville focuses on Jack Lennon, the cop who abandoned Marie McKenna and their daughter.  Lennon was just a name in the last book. An explanation for why Marie was outcast by her family.

Lennon is a pretty decent policeman.  Lennon is a pretty lousy person.  Lennon is Catholic and joined the police department at the time when doing so ostracized you from the Catholic side.  Lennon's mother and sister refuse to speak to him.  Lennon joined when his IRA brother was murdered for being a tout (an informer).  Everyone knew who did the killing but no one could do anything to bring the guy to justice.

Lennon joined the police to fight injustice but he is not a crusader.  Lennon takes pay of money from pimps.  Lennon drives an Audi he cannot afford.  Lennon lives in a high end apartment he cannot afford.  Lennon wears clothes he cannot afford.  Lennon's career was badly hurt by a false sexual harassment accusation.  Lennon sounds like a sex addict with random bar pickups and prostitutes when no one else available.

Lennon is assigned a surveillance detail where he sees one IRA guy try to murder another IRA guy.  The would-be-killer is an informer for the police department's all powerful Intelligence section (forget the real name) and they say, "Charge him with something light, we'll make it worth your while."  Lennon gets assigned to a higher profile crime squad.

Meanwhile, Gerry Fegan from Ghosts is living in hiding in the U.S.  The guy whose people he killed and severely injured, Bull O'Kane, has hired a brain damaged sociopath to kill anyone who witnessed Bull's humiliation by Fegan at the end of Ghosts.  Marie McKenna was involved in that event and afterwards disappeared with her and Lennon's daughter.  Lennon had always kept an eye on Marie and daughter and knew something weird happened.  Lennon sees the clues when the Brain Damaged Sociopath starts killing people involved with Bull.

Lennon is told by Intelligence to back-off.  Intelligence likes Bull because Bull bleats on Belfast bad guys.  Lennon keeps looking.  Lennon gets pressure from his superior and Intelligence.  Fegan knows something is wrong with Marie.  Fegan deals with other trouble in Manhattan and flies back to Ireland.  Lennon finds that the IRA talks to the cops.  The Loyalists talk to the cops.  The crooks talk to the cops.  The IRA and Loyalists talk to each other.  Everyone proclaims, "Death to touts!"  Everyone whispers, "Just not me."

People die.  Tensions rise.  Sociopath is scary.  Sadness ensues.  More people die.  Lennon ends up with his daughter.

1.  Interesting connection to the currently running Whitey Bulger trial.  All the mob guys hate "rats" but all the mob guys are rats.  Here the loyalist and unionists all proclaim "death to touts" and "kill the enemy" but they all talk to the police and their illegal commerce freely flows from Catholic to Protestant and back again.  So many of them are simple mobsters and thugs with little to no concern for the political front they show.  They freely trade in prostitutes and drugs and run their own little neighborhood crime rings.
2.  Maybe if Nevill does a third novel he will focus on another minor character.  A weaselly Intelligence section could prove interesting.
3.  Everyone's a liar.  Few people care about the politics.  The have people they hate and they like that.
4.  A week ago there were new riots in Northern Ireland after the Orange Order was told not to march where they always had before.

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