Neville, Stuart - 'The Twelve'
This is an absolutely astonishing first novel, which tells its story at an almost breakneck pace. It tells the story of Gerry Fegan a former hit-man for the Provisional IRA who has been released from the Maze Prison, under the Good Friday Agreement, where he was serving time for his participation in a lot of savage murders. He slaughtered 12 victims and the "Twelve" of the title refers to the number of victims that continue to haunt him daily, so much so he only loses their screams in the bottom of a whisky bottle. He has to be semi-permanently drunk just to get by, until he realises that if he can kill the men that ordered him to shoot the victims, then the victims will stop haunting him.
He starts to slaughter the greedy politicians and corrupt police officials - even a rather drunken priest. But when his actions start to destabilise the Government, his old enemies and comrades alike want him dead and they send in a couple of other hit men to do it. It seems very strange to have, as the hero of a book, a man who is such a despicable, corrupt, mass murdering anti-hero as Gerry Fegan is. Gerry feels himself as an outsider as does Marie McKenna, who has also been ostracised by their society because she had an affair with an RUC policeman and had a child with him before he dumped her. Gerry feels a closeness to her and offers to protect her from the people who want to bully her. Gerry and Marie and her child decide to make a run for it, away from the hit men and their adventure together brings this book to its very exciting conclusion.
THE TWELVE is quite a page turner but be warned, if you can't abide scenes of implied torture and pretty choice language, then don't read this book. For me I thought it was brilliant, perhaps the best and most original first book in years. I hope we see more books of this quality from this new and exciting author.
Read another review of THE TWELVE.
Terry Halligan, England