Monday, September 24, 2018

Irish: "Those We Left Behind" by Stuart Neville

Irish: Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville, 2015, 9781616956363.

I've read a few other Neville books and enjoyed them. Neville had a book tour stop in Madison not too long ago but I was unable to attend. So far this is a standalone novel.

Ciaran Devine went to prison seven years ago as a 12-year-old murderer. DCI Serena Flanagan investigated the case and interview Ciaran for that case. Now, Ciaran is 18-years-old and ready for release on parole. Serena is just back on duty in Northern Ireland after cancer treatment. Paula Cunningham is Ciaran's newly appointed parole officer and responsible for getting him settled and guiding him forward. Meanwhile, Thomas's older brother, an accessory to the murder, has been out of prison and is reuniting with his brother.

Things go horribly for every one.

I've not too much to say about the plot and I do have spoilers ahead. Basically, Thomas and Ciaran bounced around foster homes for several years. Their father died in a car wreck and their mother turned into an addict. Ciaran put his faith in Thomas and missed his mother. Thomas put his faith in himself, misogyny, and violence. Thomas is mentally and physically abusive to Ciaran. He bites Ciaran, he hits Ciaran, he threatens to leave Ciaran by himself. Thomas forces Ciaran to murder their foster father.

Meanwhile Serena has her issues. She is a workaholic and avoids home and her husband and children. Serena gets involved again with Ciaran's old case when Cunningham consults with her on Ciaran's release. Serena gets more involved when a fellow resident of Ciaran's halfway house is beaten into the hospital. Serena gets a bit worried when the only surviving member of the murdered man's family dies in a stabbing after confronting Thomas and Ciaran.

Things happen. Neville puts characters in danger. Neville makes us sympathetic to the manipulated and child-like Ciaran. Thomas is scary as a guy with lots of anger and no fear of injury or prison.Serena refuses to let let logic and sense drive her decisions. She angers quickly. Cunningham didn't ask for any of this crap and is already drinking way too much.

I'm gradually changing my interests so that plot matters less and less to me. Everything ends up being about the character interaction and the plot just gives them something to do. I still greatly enjoy use of setting and how the setting influences the story and the characters.

Anyhoo. I enjoyed the novel but think Neville's other work is better. I cannot say why I think that. I just do.

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