Gerry Fegan is haunted by twelve ghosts. Twelve souls who he either helped bring to their demise or he brought them there himself . The twelve want revenge for their deaths and they won’t leave Gerry alone until their revenge is taken.
The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville is set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and draws upon Belfast’s violent past with The Troubles. Gerry Fegan is a former Paramilitary who, after being freed from serving time for his crimes, is wracked with the guilt that comes with what he’s done. Fegan drinks heavily and openly talks to the souls who have started to haunt him, causing those around him to think he’s gone insane. Fegan’s only resolution to get the twelve to leave is to carry out the revenge they so desperately want. Carrying out this revenge will threaten the fragile peace process that is playing out amongst government officials as well as the individual citizens within Belfast.
The Ghosts of Belfast is a descriptive and brutal story that puts the reader right into the action. One can feel the tension between characters. The reader is able to get into Fegan’s mind and understand his guilt and torment. Surprisingly, for all of Fegan’s, atrocities (past and present) he is a likable and sympathetic character. His quest for justice to those who haunt him is difficult, brutal and filled with nightmarish scenes. The aftermath of The Troubles is a constant presence in the air and is on display in the individuals within the story. I thought the book to be well written, fast paced, and the supporting characters to be well fleshed out. The only stumbling part for me was at the beginning of the book – I found myself getting confused with who was who. But that only lasted for a few pages and I was able to get back on track and read the book in just a few days time.
Stuart Neville is currently touring for his most recent book, The Final Silence, and I recommend going to see him if he stops in a city near you. He’s an engaging speaker and offered good insight into his writing process and ideas. I’ve only read this first book of his but am looking forward to reading all of the rest. I thought The Ghosts of Belfast to be an excellent read; one that will stay with you long after you are done.