Collusion – Stuart Neville

Synopsis from

Former paramilitary killer Gerry Fegan wanders New York City, hiding from a past he escaped at terrible cost. But he made a fatal mistake: he spared the life of Bull O’Kane, a ruthless man who will stop at nothing to get his revenge. Too many witnesses survived a bloody battle at his border farm, and now he wants them silenced, whether man, woman or child. O’Kane calls the Traveller, an assassin without pity or remorse, a killer of the purest kind.

Back in Belfast, Detective Inspector Jack Lennon, father of one the witnesses, is caught up in a web of official secrets and lies as he tries to uncover the whereabouts of his daughter. The closer he gets to the truth about the events on O’Kane’s border farm, the more his superiors instruct him to back off.

When Fegan realises he can’t shake off the trail of violence that has followed him across the world, he has no choice but to return to Belfast and confront his past. The Traveller awaits Fegan’s return, ready for the fight of his life.

My husband, the Lovely Bry reviewed Stuart Neville’s debut novel The Twelve here last year.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to read it as it was lent out to friends who lent it to other friends etc etc.  However, this time I was determined not to miss out so as soon as Bry turned the last page I snatched the book and devoured it in just one day, taking time out only to see that the children were fed and watered – it was really unputdownable.

I have been assured by Bry that Collusion is an even better read than The Twelve and that you can see how Neville has improved his writing, tightening up the narrative, using short chapters which crank up the tension to an almost unbearable level.  Gerry Fegan and the mysterious Traveller both have a slightly supernatural element about them – Gerry is still haunted by his turbulent past as a paramilitary killer but retains his aura of invincibility.  Is The Traveller his nemesis? 

It’s not a clearcut case of good versus evil here as the baddies far outnumber the goodies and each character is fully fleshed, flaws and all.  You really don’t know who to trust from one minute to the next. DI Jack Lennon is a really engaging character.  He’d given up so much in order to join the police at a time when Catholic recruits were few and far between and now his once respected superiors seem enmeshed in the filthy mess of collusion – loyalists and republicans even helping each other if there’s money to be made.  

In short, a thrilling, taut read – not for those of a nervous disposition or those who object to “strong” language.  I’m really looking forward to Stolen Souls, another thriller featuring Jack Lennon, somehow I don’t think he’s going to get the  quiet life he’d hoped for!

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