Customer Reviews for

The Ghosts of Belfast (Jack Lennon Series #1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Unflinchingly brutal, completely original, and absolutely brilliant.

"All I wanted was some peace. I just wanted to sleep." - Gerry Fegan

Set in Belfast in the aftermath of Northern Ireland's Troubles, The Ghosts of Belfast introduces us to ex-con Gerry Fegan. Treated by the locals as a hero for his activities as a "hard man" during t...
"All I wanted was some peace. I just wanted to sleep." - Gerry Fegan

Set in Belfast in the aftermath of Northern Ireland's Troubles, The Ghosts of Belfast introduces us to ex-con Gerry Fegan. Treated by the locals as a hero for his activities as a "hard man" during the Troubles, activities that got him sent to prison for twelve years, Fegan just wants to leave his past in the past and live out his life in peace. That, unfortunately, isn't going to happen.

The guilt of his own conscience weighs heavily enough upon him, but that is not the only burden Fegan has to bear. Shortly before his release from prison Fegan began getting visits. Not from friends or family, but from the ghosts of the twelve people he killed during the Troubles. Sometimes only one or two at a time, other times all twelve at once, when we meet Fegan it has been seven long years since his "followers," as he calls them, first came calling.

Tormented to the very edge of sanity, Fegan barely manages to do more each day than wander down to the pub, get drunk, go home and pass out, then get up and do it all over again. One night a friend Fegan used to run with before his time in prison comes to visit him in the pub. Now a smooth talking politician, Fegan's friend, McKenna, was once one of the men Fegan took orders from during the Troubles. Orders that led to deaths including one of Fegan's followers, the one he calls "The Boy."

As The Boy circles McKenna in the pub, miming putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger, Fegan comes to believe that what his followers want - no, demand - is justice. The followers want him to put to death those responsible for ordering theirs. Ignoring the potential consequences of killing a politician crucial to the fledgling peace process, not to mention one still very much "connected," Fegan tests his theory by killing McKenna. Sure enough, The Boy disappears. And with that, all in the first fifteen pages, we are off and running. One down, eleven to go.

As Fegan systematically seeks to balance the scales, and hopefully save his sanity, the reader is given glimpses back in time to the circumstances under which each of his followers was killed. It's not pretty, as author Stuart Neville provides graphic descriptions of Fegan's past brutality as a hard man. And yet, one never gets the feeling that the depictions of violence are being used gratuitously. Rather, they are necessary to illustrate the events which gave birth to Fegan's extreme guilt, and which justify in his mind the extreme measures he's willing to take to rid himself of that guilt... and of his followers.

Part noir, part ghost story, The Ghosts of Belfast is unflinchingly brutal, completely original, and absolutely brilliant. Stuart Neville has most definitely announced his presence with authority.

posted by AllPurposeMonkey on April 29, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

strong language but an excellent book to read

kept my interest throughout

posted by phoenix714 on February 11, 2012

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  • Posted April 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Unflinchingly brutal, completely original, and absolutely brilliant.

    "All I wanted was some peace. I just wanted to sleep." - Gerry Fegan

    Set in Belfast in the aftermath of Northern Ireland's Troubles, The Ghosts of Belfast introduces us to ex-con Gerry Fegan. Treated by the locals as a hero for his activities as a "hard man" during the Troubles, activities that got him sent to prison for twelve years, Fegan just wants to leave his past in the past and live out his life in peace. That, unfortunately, isn't going to happen.

    The guilt of his own conscience weighs heavily enough upon him, but that is not the only burden Fegan has to bear. Shortly before his release from prison Fegan began getting visits. Not from friends or family, but from the ghosts of the twelve people he killed during the Troubles. Sometimes only one or two at a time, other times all twelve at once, when we meet Fegan it has been seven long years since his "followers," as he calls them, first came calling.

    Tormented to the very edge of sanity, Fegan barely manages to do more each day than wander down to the pub, get drunk, go home and pass out, then get up and do it all over again. One night a friend Fegan used to run with before his time in prison comes to visit him in the pub. Now a smooth talking politician, Fegan's friend, McKenna, was once one of the men Fegan took orders from during the Troubles. Orders that led to deaths including one of Fegan's followers, the one he calls "The Boy."

    As The Boy circles McKenna in the pub, miming putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger, Fegan comes to believe that what his followers want - no, demand - is justice. The followers want him to put to death those responsible for ordering theirs. Ignoring the potential consequences of killing a politician crucial to the fledgling peace process, not to mention one still very much "connected," Fegan tests his theory by killing McKenna. Sure enough, The Boy disappears. And with that, all in the first fifteen pages, we are off and running. One down, eleven to go.

    As Fegan systematically seeks to balance the scales, and hopefully save his sanity, the reader is given glimpses back in time to the circumstances under which each of his followers was killed. It's not pretty, as author Stuart Neville provides graphic descriptions of Fegan's past brutality as a hard man. And yet, one never gets the feeling that the depictions of violence are being used gratuitously. Rather, they are necessary to illustrate the events which gave birth to Fegan's extreme guilt, and which justify in his mind the extreme measures he's willing to take to rid himself of that guilt... and of his followers.

    Part noir, part ghost story, The Ghosts of Belfast is unflinchingly brutal, completely original, and absolutely brilliant. Stuart Neville has most definitely announced his presence with authority.

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very adventurous read highly stimulating and full of action would wake a great movie!!!!!

    I loved the writers style and flow of the story its a brutal story with many twist and turns it will keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters are all very colorful people with shady back rounds that came from their struggle for freedom. I was amazed at the level of violence and the brutal tactics of torture used to maintain absolute allegence to their cause yet they still where infiltrated with touts constantly. This book would be a great block buster movie!!!!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A compelling debut

    This first novel is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat read. Neville melds an original concept and a riveting plot to create a top-notch thriller. "The Ghosts of Belfast" is one of those rare books that I truly "missed" when I had finished reading it.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wow!

    I stumbled across this book on B&N and intrigued, read it. I was NOT disappointed. Wow. The story was great, the characters very interesting. I would love to hear more about the main character. He seemed to deserve a better life at the end. The writing really made you see Belfast and Ireland. Hopefully we can expect many more books from this author.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    great haunting war story

    Gerry Fegan believed in the cause of freeing Northern Ireland from the British. He was a soldier who did the assigned tasks willing to die for his belief and committed atrocities against adversaries. He felt no remorse when he killed a civilian as collateral damage is the norm in warfare especially urban guerilla warfare.

    He was able to ignore the greed of his superior officers as long as the cause was just especially with whiskey. However Gerry is not an ordinary soldier as he has always been able to communicate with the dead. While believing in the cause, he could keep the spirits of those he killed in the shadows, but no more. The Good Friday Agreement leaves Gerry free in Belfast living under British Rule and wondering why he believed. Those he followed in combat and went to prison for now serve in Parliament; while they are fat, dumb and wealthy, Fegan feels the guilt of the twelve innocent people he killed; their ghosts demand he do what those fat cats trained him to do: kill his former allies.

    This is a great haunting war story whether one agreed with the IRA or not as THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST could easily have been the ghosts of Saigon or even Baghdad, as the soldier's psyche depends critically on the cause. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Gerry begins his new mission while his former friends send an agent to stop him. Readers will appreciate this thought provoking thriller that will have the audience pondering the prime underlying cause and the short and long term effects.

    Harriet Klausner

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic book!!

    Truly the best book I've read in a long time. A gripping story which will grab your attention and not let it go. I'm so glad to see this is the first in a series. Can't wait to read the next one.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Story

    Also published under the title 'The Twelve'

    This novel is a stunning debut thriller; tension-filled from start to finish telling the fictional story of Gerry Fegan, a former IRA assassin who is haunted by ghosts of his twelve victims.

    I was grabbed from the first pages and I couldn't read fast enough to see the outcome. The tale begins with the central protagonist, Gerry Fegan, driven to the brink of insanity, haunted and tormented day and night by the terrible memories of the twelve people he killed. Since his release from Maze Prison, he spends his waking moments in a state of inebriation in an attempt to seek refuge from the visions and guilt that continually haunt him.

    One day through a vision, he sees a possible way out, eliminate the people who contracted these murders and hopefully banished the ghosts of guilt forever and lead a normal life. One by one, Fegan seeks out the master minds and makes them pay for their misguided decisions, a life for a life, gradually clearing the burden hanging heavy over his shoulders.

    This novel is full of energy creating an escalating sense of tension as you go deeper into it. The author has created a harsh and unrelenting story that dabs into the political and religious landscape of today's Ireland and the fragility of its peace accord. The prose is sharp and emotional. ' Ghosts of Belfast' is a mystery novel with a different spin, brilliantly done and brims with its strong characterization. We see how leaders with self centered ideas manipulate the minds of average people and turn them into puppets, some haunted by their actions for the rest of their life.

    I enjoyed my time spent with this thought provoking thriller.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2010

    Could not put it down!

    Fabulouly written, an absolute must-read, even if you find the seemingly never-ending "troubles" of Ireland depressing beyond words. This imaginatively-written book brings the whole thing to life in a way I never would have thought I would enjoy. I'm starting to find these incredible European books; I should have done it much earlier.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Best first chapter of a book I have read in a long while

    I was absolutely thrilled at finding this book! I am adding Stuart Neville to my list of fav's along with Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly and John Harvey. Can't wait for the next one.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2010

    Remarkable novel!

    Well-written and fast paced. Fegan is a terribly complex and human protagonist, at once brutal and compassionate, driven by anger, shame, guilt,and ultimately love. Given the violence with which he has lived, the ending is surprising but satisfying. The plot is compelling, and leaves the reader with much to think about and discuss. Neville is a novelist I would read again.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent thriller set in Post Troubles Belfast

    This is an excellent thriller with great political undertones regarding the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Gerry Fegan is a compelling character who you want to empathize with, but who also has a dark history which is hard to ignore. It is Gerry's haunting ghosts who deserve your sympathy.

    For anyone interested in an Irish thriller, this books satisfies and intrigues. Neville's second book in this series is also excellent - "Collusion." I also suggest Tara French's great Irish detective novels - "In the Woods" and "The Likeness"

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    strong language but an excellent book to read

    kept my interest throughout

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2011

    Interesting details about the modern history of "political" Irleand

    Very good read, some parts are difficult to get through because of the writer's in-depth knowledge of the history and struggles of Ireland's political powers. If I was 15-20 years older it would have been easier for me to follow the story line. But overall, a good read with just to right amount of details to provoke a reader's feelings about the main characters and their thrilling situations. Def. going to read #2 in the series. :)

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2013

    Good book about life after the years of violence in Irelan

    This is a good murder mystery with some twists and turns that make for good reading. I takes place in post war Ireland and deals with the how the creators of all the violence coped with peace and becoming obsolete.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Pick this book up.!!

    This book is a wonderfull mix with paranormal and mafia type hitmen. Ghosts of his past hits haunt him and have him killing those who ordered them dead. I reccomend this, you will not be bored with this one. It is written pretty good and you get the feeling you get to know all the characters, dead and alive. Great read!! Pick it up

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Dark and Gritty

    This is a very dark, gritty and haunting novel. I was intrigued by the story line and the character of Gerry Fagan. He's a tortured soul trying to find absolution for his past crimes, and that part was interesting to me. The stuff I didn't care for was the excessive amount of cursing that at times seemed unneccesary. It's very violent, and very harsh, and if that isn't your thing then I don't recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    A lot of cussing and violence

    This book was just ok for me. There was a lot of violence (which I expected) but there was also a lot of cussing, which I could have done without. Over all this book was just ok. I did finish it but it wasn't a "I must stay up all night and finish" kind of book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    Excellent! Long time since I read a book quite like this!

    I really enjoyed this book and hope that it is made into a movie! It's fast-paced and well written. Mr. Neville knows how to draw the reader into the characters. I hated to go to sleep at night because I wanted to keep reading. I read my nook during transportation to and from work and on my lunch hour. Finished it in two days - fantastic!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Great read once you get into it

    I felt a little out of my element when I first started reading,but once I got onto it,it was hard to put down. Not your typical protagonist. I liked the difference.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2012

    what a book!

    i finished it a few days ago, and still i can't get this book out of my head. the image...narrative...characters...all fascinating. i'm from korea, and the political, regional conflicts inside a single nation this book depict remind me of those of my own country's. anyway, this is a good, very good book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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