Review: Collusion by Stuart Neville
(Harville Secker £12.99)
Last year, Stuart Neville made a sensational debut with The Twelve, a searing story of the havoc wreaked in the North by Gerry Fegan, a deranged IRA assassin seeking to still his victim's haunting voices.
But Fegan, who fled to New York, made a fatal mistake by sparing the life of Bull O'Kane, a ruthless criminal who will stop at nothing to get his revenge. He wants Fegan dead, and he also wants the handful of witnesses who survived the bloody shoot-out and his humiliation at his border farmhouse silenced.
The man he picks for the job is a stone-cold killer for hire called the Traveller. But the Traveller isn't the only one hunting for Fegan and the witnesses. Detective Inspector Jack Lennon is also desperate to find his six-year-old daughter and her mother, Maria McKenna, both of whom were at the farmhouse that night and are under police protection. Bull O'Kane, now an invalid, has corrupt friends in high places and Lennon finds himself instructed by his superiors to back off as the Traveller goes about his deadly and bloody business.
In New York Gerry Fegan realises he will have to return to Belfast if he wishes to protect Maria and her daughter. This decision sets all three men on an inescapable collision course and a violent and tragic denouement.
Collusion is a gripping thriller that transcends its genre through an unflinching examination of how 40 years of internecine strife has left unhealed scars that resonate in all levels of life in the North today.