“Not only one of the finest thriller debuts of the last ten years, but also one of the best Irish novels, in any genre, of recent times.”
“Neville’s novel is a coldly lucid assessment of the fragility of the Irish peace … a rare example of legitimate noir fiction.”
—The New York Times Book Review
"Perfect for summer—especially if you want to be reminded of what a blessing it is to live in relatively peaceful times."
“The best first novel I’ve read in years…. It’s a flat-out terror trip.”
“The Ghosts of Belfast is a smart and atmospheric thriller about the many causes served and corrupt pockets lined courtesy of sectarian hatred.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR.org
"Stuart Neville is Ireland's answer to Henning Mankell."
“Stuart Neville's tightly wound, emotionally resonant account of an ex-IRA hit man's struggle to conquer his past, displays an acute understanding of the true state of Northern Ireland, still under the thumb of decades of violence and terrorism.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Both a fine novel and a gripping thriller: truly this is a magnificent debut.”
—Ruth Dudley Edwards, author of Ten Lords-A-Leaping
“Stuart Neville goes to the heart of the perversity of paramilitarism.”
—Sean O’Callaghan, author of The Informer
“An astonishing debut. Brilliantly conceived, masterfully written, Stuart Neville’s The Ghosts of Belfast is both a heart-pounding thriller and a stunning examination of responsibility and revenge. He is going to be a major new voice in suspense fiction.”
“Stuart Neville will go far as a writer . . . It’s a wonderful novel, brave and fierce and true to its place and time. I sincerely hope it sells a million copies.”
“Stuart Neville belongs to a younger generation of writers for whom the region's darkest years are history—but that history endures, as his first novel, The Ghosts of Belfast, shockingly demonstrates…. This noir thriller plays out in a Belfast that, even in summer sunshine, remains oppressively gray. The clannishness of its inhabitants is vividly evoked in Neville's descriptions of a tiny rowhouse packed with mourners for a murdered man's wake or a seedy pub where the bartender has learned to look the other way when violence arrives. A riot scene, one of the novel's best, captures a new generation's appetite for blood and an old veteran's nostalgia…. In scene after gruesome scene, Neville attempts to persuade us that this time around, with this repentant murderer, the killing is different.”
“Neville’s debut is as unrelenting as Fegan’s ghosts, pulling no punches as it describes the brutality of Ireland’s 'troubles' and the crime that has followed, as violent men find new outlets for their skills. Sharp prose places readers in this pitiless place and holds them there. Harsh and unrelenting crime fiction, masterfully done.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“[A] stunning debut.... This is not only an action-packed, visceral thriller but also an insightful insider’s glimpse into the complex political machinations and networks that maintain the uneasy truce in Northern Ireland.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“In this well-crafted and intriguing series debut, Neville evokes the terrors of living in Belfast during 'the Troubles' and manages to makes Fegan, a murderer many times over, a sympathetic character…The buzz around this novel is well deserved and readers will be anticipating the next book in the series.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review
“Explosive and absorbing ... The Ghosts of Belfast is an intense meditation on obligation, necessity, and war. Within Stuart Neville’s rich vocabulary, complacency is not a word to be found.”
—Sacramento News and Review
“The Ghosts of Belfast is a tale of revenge and reconciliation shrouded in a bloody original crime thriller.... Fierce dialogue and the stark political realities of a Northern Ireland recovering from the ‘Troubles’ drive this novel. It's not difficult to read this brilliant book as an allegory for a brutal past that must be confronted so the present ‘can be clean.’”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“In his stunning debut, Stuart Neville delivers an inspired, gritty view of how violence's aftermath lasts for years and the toll it takes on each person involved. The Ghosts of Belfast also insightfully delves into Irish politics, the uneasy truce in Northern Ireland, redemption, guilt and responsibility ... Neville delivers an emotionally packed novel that is both empathetic and savage. Neville never makes Gerry's visions of ghosts seem trite or silly. Like his countryman, John Connolly, Neville keeps the supernatural aspects believable ... The Ghosts of Belfast is a haunting debut.”
—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“If you by chance have never read Stuart Neville’s Belfast Trilogy, it’s time to redeem yourself.”
“A brilliant thriller: unbearably tense, stomach churningly frightening … a future classic of its time.”
“Stuart Neville's blistering debut thriller is a walk on the wild side of post-conflict Northern Ireland that brilliantly exposes the suffering still lurking beneath the surface of reconciliation and the hypocrisies that sustain the peace.”
“Neville has the talent to believably blend the tropes of the crime novel and those of a horror, in the process creating a page-turning thriller akin to a collaboration between John Connolly and Stephen King.”
—Sunday Independent (Ireland)
“A gripping, original thriller."
“[Neville] is … uniquely, tragically equipped to be able to think through complex issues of justice and mercy.”
…so bleak and despairing"noir" in the genuine existential senseit would rattle the composure of a saint…For something that reads as if it were written in a hellish fury, Neville's novel is a coldly lucid assessment of the fragility of the Irish peace.
The New York Times
…the book's sections are numbered like a countdown, from 12 to 1 for the avenging ghosts, but the predictable action is complicated by a clever espionage twist…With the exception of Fegan, for whom we are expected to feel some sympathy, Neville's portraits of the IRA leadership and its foot soldiers are clear-eyed and unforgiving (the British officials, by contrast, are rather cartoonish). Northern Ireland's recent historical background is also deftly compressed, albeit with a few too many journalistic cliches. The moral of The Ghosts of Belfast, voiced by the mother of a murdered boy, is that "everybody pays." Even when peace is declared and even when killers become politicians.
The Washington Post
With this stunning debut, Neville joins a select group of Irish writers, including Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and Adrian McKinty, who have reinvigorated the noir tradition with a Celtic edge. Gerry Fegan, a former IRA hit man haunted by the ghosts of the 12 people he killed, realizes the only way these specters will give him rest is to systematically assassinate the men who gave him his orders. Though those in the militant IRA underworld have written him off as a babbling drunk and a liability to the movement, they take note when their members start turning up dead. Meanwhile, Fegan is attracted to Marie McKenna, a relative of one of the newly slain men and a pariah to the Republicans. Can Fegan satisfy his demons and redeem himself, or will the ghosts of Belfast consume him first? This is not only an action-packed, visceral thriller but also an insightful insider’s glimpse into the complex political machinations and networks that maintain the uneasy truce in Northern Ireland. (Oct.)
Former IRA killer Gerry Fegan is literally haunted by the past: 12 ghosts follow him, the victims of his days as a "hard man." Although Belfast is no longer a war zone, the IRA bosses are still in charge, and the ghosts want them dead. Oblivious to the precarious state of the political situation in Northern Ireland and how his actions might affect it, Fegan tries to win some peace for himself by satisfying the ghosts' desire for revenge, only to find himself hunted in return, not only by former IRA heavies but by the British as well. His budding relationship with a woman and her child who are also threatened by the IRA show him that another type of life is possible but at the same time makes him vulnerable. Verdict In this well-crafted and intriguing series debut, Neville evokes the terrors of living in Belfast during "the Troubles" and manages to makes Fegan, a murderer many times over, a sympathetic character. VERDICT The buzz around this novel is well deserved and readers will be anticipating the next book in the series. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 6/1/09; this was published in July as The Twelve to great acclaim in the U.K.—Ed.] —Lisa Hanson O'Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Libs., Winnipeg
The IRA may have made peace with England, but decades of violence still haunt a former terrorist. One-time IRA hard man Gerry Fegan is out of prison. But the 12 people he killed (three while out of jail on compassionate leave for his mother's funeral) won't let him forget the past. For the seven years since his release, Belfast native Fegan has been troubled by these dozen silent and accusing figures, and no amount of drink has driven the ghosts away. So when his old running buddy, Sinn Fein Assembly member Michael McKenna, shows up to ask why Fegan has revealed the site of a body dump to a victim's still-grieving mother, he follows the direction of one spectral victim and shoots McKenna. The killing ignites a firestorm of old rivalries and paranoia; it's a crime against Fegan's former brotherhood that makes him an outlaw among his own kind, but it's also the beginning of possible salvation, as the haunted, wasted gunman realizes he must avenge his ghosts to find peace. But even murder isn't simple, especially when McKenna's beautiful niece Marie and her daughter Ellen get caught up in the violence. First in a proposed series, Neville's debut is as unrelenting as Fegan's ghosts, pulling no punches as it describes the brutality of Ireland's "troubles" and the crime that has followed, as violent men find new outlets for their skills. Sharp prose places readers in this pitiless place and holds them there. Harsh and unrelenting crime fiction, masterfully done.