About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

22. - 580.) The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville – It is impossible to put the book down during the first 25 pages. One of Belfast’s “hard men”, Gerry Fegan, is drinking himself insensible every night to drown out the voices of the 12 ghosts of people he has killed as a member of the IRA during the Troubles. I thought of Hamish haunting Ian Rutledge in the Charles Todd series of mysteries. Fegan’s ghosts demand far more requiring him to take vengeance on the men that either ordered or participated in their deaths with him.
To listen to the ghosts would require Fegan to turn on the friends and colleagues he has had since childhood. He would be a traitor to the movement that has dominated his adult years. Yet the movement has little need anymore of hard men. The leadership has become part of the political process. Hard men are only called upon to intimidate in support of a political goal or to assist in a corrupt business venture.
When Fegan can no longer resist the screaming ghosts and kills a colleague, Michael McKenna, he sets in motion a roaring ride back into the brutal 30 year civil war that almost destroyed Belfast.
The book is compelling but harrowing. Fegan sets out to exact vigilante justice. He has been a cold killer through his adult life. Can a reader, should a reader like or feel sympathy for this vicious killer continuing to kill? I have a comparable ambivalence reading the Michael Crais novels featuring Joe Pike. What is justice for killers? Can the dead expect Biblical justice? Forgiveness was a word lost in Northern Ireland in the past four decades.
J.D. Singh at Sleuth of Baker Street has been recommending the book since it was first published. His praise was warranted.
The story is a powerful exploration of the psychological costs of killing upon the killers. Fegan has been profoundly damaged. Superb. (Apr. 22/11)


  1. I just finished this novel last night and I agree it is a powerful read. While I personally wouldn't call it a mystery, it is a thriller in the best sense of the word and a definite page turner. While reading I found myself thrust into the streets of Belfast and the relatively stability that followed the peace process. In a post 9/11 world, where most western media is preoccupied by American definitions of "terror" and focused on "terror" in the middle east, it it is easy to forget the utter chaos and devastation that so many suffered during the conflict in Northern Ireland. Without getting too deep into the politics, Neville deftly brings the reader into the lives of many characters who would have been deeply involved in the conflict and crafts a novel that illustrates how difficult it must be for some to move on a rejoin society after the peace. Despite my initial hesitation, I found the main character completely sympathetic and I was captivated by his quest to rid himself of his 12 demons. I don't want to ruin the plot, but for anyone interested in a thriller with hints of politics and history, this book comes highly recommended.

  2. Michael: Thanks for the post. I am glad you enjoyed the book. It is a book I will be thinking about for a long time.