AUTHOR: STUART NEVILLE
Details: no. 2 Northern Ireland thriller
This the second thriller by Stuart Neville set in Northern Ireland and it is another fast and furious story with lots of violence.
The story starts a few months after the end of The Twelve. The main character this time is Jack Lennon, the policeman who left Marie from the first book when she was pregnant with his daughter, Ellen.
Marie and her daughter have disappeared after all the violence they were exposed to, and Jack is trying to find his daughter and to discover what exactly happened before she disappeared. But as he asks questions and starts digging he keeps on running up against conspiracies and secrets. When people who were connected to the earlier events start dying, Lennon is convinced they are being murdered because of that connection and that Marie and his daughter are also in danger. His superiors in the police force however seem determined to not investigate the suspicious deaths and keep on warning him to let the whole situation rest.
The instigator of this new round of violence is Bull O'Kane. When Gerry Fegan allowed the Bull to live during their confrontation he created a wounded but still powerful enemy. An enemy who now only has one purpose in life, to get his revenge on Gerry and who will do anything to get it. Bull has hired a killer, at least as ruthless as Gerry used to be, to kill all those who were connected to Gerry's killing spree and then to get Marie and Ellen in order to draw Gerry out.
Gerry meanwhile is in New York trying to build himself a new and non-violent life. Deep inside though he knows that unfinished business waits for him in Northern Ireland and that it's only a matter of time before he will have to fulfill his promise to Marie and go back to protect her and her very special daughter once again.
This book is at least as well written as the first one. Another book that grabs you by the throat on page one and doesn't let go until you've read the last word on the last page. It is also once again a story filled with lots of, at times very brutal, violence. But, I did think this book was more balanced than The Twelve. Where I thought there were just black characters in The Twelve, the characters in this book have more nuances. Even Gerry Fegan, who is only one of the characters making a re-appearance, comes out of this story looking far better. While I was looking for reasons to like Fegan in the first book, I didn't have to try at all in this one. With his ghosts out of the way, he was only a man looking for a quiet life, forced to keep his promise.
Lennon is also a well-rounded character. There are definitely sides to his character that are easy to dislike, but he's really just a man like any other, trying to do his best but bound to fail every now and again.
I also like the super-natural aspects to these stories. They may take a back seat to the more standard thriller aspects of the stories, but they give these books that little extra that makes them stand out from your run of the mill thriller.
I really hope Stuart Neville continues with this series. I'd love to meet Lennon and Ellen again in the future and see how their lives develop.
On a side note; On FantasticFiction.com this book is listed as the second Jack Lennon thriller. Because Lennon didn't really feature in the first book at all I decided to list it as I did above instead.