“The Twelve is not only one of the finest thriller debuts of the last ten years, but is also one of the best Irish novels, in any genre, of recent times. It grips from the first page to the last, and heralds the arrival of a major new voice in Irish writing.”
Sooner or later, everybody pays – and the dead will set the price…
Former paramilitary killer Gerry Fegan is haunted by his victims, twelve souls who shadow his every waking day and scream through every drunken night. Just as he reaches the edge of sanity they reveal their desire: vengeance on those who engineered their deaths. From the greedy politicians to the corrupt security forces, the street thugs to the complacent bystanders who let it happen, all must pay the price.
When Fegan’s vendetta threatens to derail Northern Ireland’s peace process and destabilise its fledgling government, old comrades and enemies alike want him gone. David Campbell, a double agent lost between the forces of law and terror, takes the job. But he has his own reasons for eliminating Fegan; the secrets of a dirty war should stay buried, even if its ghosts do not.
Set against the backdrop of a post-conflict Northern Ireland struggling with its past, The Twelve takes the reader from the back streets of the city, where violence and politics go hand-in-hand, to the country’s darkest heart. Stuart Neville’s gripping thriller marks the emergence of a brilliant new voice.
If you asked what my book heaven was at various stages in my life, you’d likely get some very different answers. At ten years old, it would have been any of Willard Price’s Adventure books, at sixteen something good and scary by Stephen King, and twenty five, probably one of Thomas Harris’s first two Lecter books. At thirty, James Ellroy’s American Tabloid, or Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities. Now I’m kicking the arse of forty, it might be Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter or Megan Abbott’s Bury Me Deep.
Is there a trend to this? I don’t know. Perhaps my tastes have gotten a little more sophisticated as I’ve eased into middle age, but the only common factor is great storytelling. These days, I’m a more demanding reader in terms of the quality of prose; I want great plots that are beautifully written, and that’s not often an easy combination to find. But not impossible – check out Eoin McNamee’s Orchid Blue for one example. When I pick up a book now, I’m more likely to wind up putting it down than finishing it. So if I do get to that last page as a satisfied reader, that’s my book heaven.
Lazy writing. More than anything else, what I hate to see is a good author delivering something that’s below par, when they’ve phoned it in, so to speak. The one example that sticks out for me is Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris. When you know he wrote two of the greatest suspense novels of modern times (Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs), it makes it all the more painful to wade through such a clumsy, half-baked book. I don’t like to be so critical of any writer, least of all one I admire, but I’m sure he won’t be too hurt by my comments while those royalties keep rolling in.
Stuart Neville has been a musician, a composer, a teacher, a salesman, a film extra, a baker and a hand double for a well-known Irish comedian, but is currently a partner in a successful multimedia design business in the wilds of Northern Ireland. His debut novel The Twelve was published to great acclaim in 2009.