• The Ghosts of Belfast

  • By: Stuart Neville
  • Narrated by: Gerard Doyle
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (2,484 ratings)

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The Ghosts of Belfast

By: Stuart Neville
Narrated by: Gerard Doyle
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Publisher's Summary

Fegan has been a "hard man" - an IRA killer in Northern Ireland. Now that peace has come, he is being haunted day and night by 12 ghosts: a mother and infant, a schoolboy, a butcher, an RUC constable, and seven other of his innocent victims. In order to appease them, he's going to have to kill the men who gave him orders.

As he's working his way down the list, he encounters a woman who may offer him redemption; she has borne a child to an RUC officer and is an outsider too. Now he has given Fate - and his quarry - a hostage. Is this Fegan's ultimate mistake?

©2009 Stuart Neville (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Mystery / Thriller, 2010
  • Notable Crime Books of 2009 (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times)
  • The Year’s Most Mesmerizing Mysteries (Maureen Corrigan, NPR)

"Stuart Neville's debut novel about the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland is harsh, brutal, and unrelentingly grim. With spare, crisp dialogue, and a gift for turning an Irish phrase, Neville plants himself firmly in Adrian McKinty territory. And who better to narrate than Gerard Doyle? Doyle gets it—and so do we. His whine; his growl; his rough yet sensitive, always-passionate performance gives everything a listener could want from an audiobook." ( AudioFile)
"With this stunning debut, Neville joins a select group of Irish writers, including Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes, and Adrian McKinty, who have reinvigorated the noir tradition with a Celtic edge." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about The Ghosts of Belfast

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

don't judge by its cover

There are plentiful Audible reviews already for this, but I would like to qualify the violence and "ghost" elements in the novel.

I purchased this for its setting, but once I saw reader reviews, pushed it aside as way too violent for my tastes; however, I eventually tried it because of the storyline of Neville's newly released Ratlines, wondering if I could stomach his style.

If you are interested in the storyline but put off by the violence, know the novel IS violent but not in a sensational "screenplay-hopeful" choreographed way. It flows from and with the plot, and although frequent and sometimes graphic, is not gratuitous. Neville is not subtle in manipulating reader sympathies by making some killings seem "justified" but portraying situations as black/white, but this unfolds in a very believable manner with good characters and absorbing plot-- plus he puts you right in Belfast mid decade '00-'10. He is able to give backstory to the social-political without being pedantic, so whatever your familiarity with the setting, I think the story is clear. I think by showing the effects of a violent act on those around it, rather than drawing the reader into either the victim or perpetrator PoV exclusively, Neville is a more authentic writer and avoids the "wince" effect I dislike.

I had postponed the listen also because I thought it might have a paranormal element: that is not the case, either.

The narration is in lovely, rich Irish English, but the reader enunciates clearly enough I think even for listeners who do not like regional accents.

90 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

What an unexpected good read!

I do not normally read ( listen to) either crime stories or ghost stories, and bought this on a whim as a vacation read ( something different). What a compelling story. Notwithstanding there are ghosts, and violence, Neville had me hooked and actually caring about what would happen to the main character, a murderer for the IRA. The language ( clear vivid word-pictures) the story ( how politics replaced the IRA tactics of intimidation) and the plot ( which proceeds in a straight and predictable line but still leaves you interested in how it will play out) were all terrific. Excellent narration by Doyle, whom I did not care for in the beginning but did, significantly, by the end.

I listened to "Angel Time" by Anne Rice, with a (somewhat) similar theme, hit man years later trying to make amends. With respect to Ms Rice, whom I like, " Ghosts of Belfast" is -by far - a much, much better book

5 stars

73 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Original and gripping...

I've been looking for a story that's original and gripping and will give me the escape I crave. 'The Ghosts of Belfast' scores big time!
Neville kept my curiosity both piqued and satisfied throughout. If I were to sketch the plot it would sound ludicrous and a maybe a bit implausible but every word rings true from the first paragraph. It can't really be classified as a ghost story lest one think of Stephen King. Neville's ghosts are more real and more motivated.
As a bonus, I inadvertently learned quite a bit about the true politics and culture of Ireland, especially during the turmoil in the 70's.

66 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

"Freedom Fighting" to Racketeering

Through the psychological struggle (insanity?) of the central character, Stuart Neville brilliantly captures the rough edges of the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland. He does a great job painting the backdrop -- how criminality became "freedom fighting" or "loyalism," then morphed back into racketeering as the peace process took hold in a post 9/11 world.

I used to spend childhood summers in Northern Ireland during the 1960s and early 70s, so I was particularly alert for flaws in authenticity. If there were any, I missed them.

The narrator, Gerard Doyle, is excellent -- superbly capturing both the nuances of the psychosis of the main character and the Belfast brogue. He seamlessly transitions between condescending Whitehall officials and Belfast thugs.

Given the death toll, this book is not for the squeamish or for listening with youngsters in the car. The detail is certainly designed to make the reader/listener uncomfortable -- and ultimately how I was drawn into the head of the central character.

In summary, an excellent yarn, very well produced as an audiobook.

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

You've love this Story

A am a hard core romance junkie. With that said, this is not a romance, I have no idea why I decided to purchase it, it was a moment of whimsy. I am glad for that moment, this story thought a bit slow in the beginning, became an addiction, my headset didn't leave me until the story finished. Not only because of the story itself; yet, also because of the narration. There is nothing worse then listening t a badly narrated story. I will not give you any particulars on the story itself other then to say- challenge yourself look for clues in the story- Is he mad or truly haunted? You wont regret finding out.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping and exceedingly well told

Grabbed this one from out of the blue. Tightly written, taut, informative, believable, highly strung characters, all rendered by a top-notch narrator (how does he keep all those terrific impersonations apart?) My best of the year...and that's saying something!

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible!

This is a terrific listen. Gerard Doyle has a wonderful voice, with accents from various parts of Ireland and from Scotland and England as well. The story describes an attempt at personal redemption on the part of an ex-IRA partisan, a man with considerable blood on his hands, who decides -- partly under the influence of the ghosts of his victims, who haunt him -- to settle accounts with the people who "ran" him. It's an incredibly violent story, at an R-rating level if such things existed for books, and it wouldn't be a good choice for the squeamish. A knockout ending. I wish more of Neville's books were available on Audible.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Are they in his head or are they not?

I wasn't expecting what I got from listening to this book. I guess with 12 ghosts following him around, I expected a spooky piece of light-weight literature. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. This book provoked a real discussion in my head of the moral dilemmas Fegan faced nearly on an hourly basis. It is tightly written, imaginative,and very entertaining. It was nice to see what seemed to be a sure jump into a love story evolve into something that would be more likely to happen.

Strong and likeable characters, gritty with a moderate dose of grisly violence, and top notch writing. It will be read in one fell swoop, I promise you.

A new and real talent.

I can't wait to read more from this author.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Gritty, real, disturbing.

You could feel the dull grey skies and the damp mood throughout the book. The characters were raw to me, sometimes I had to turn my head away from my own visualizations. A strong piece of work..a different kind of look at the struggle Ireland went through. The intertwining pain,guilt and absolute evil in the small cast of characters. The realities are not romanced here. Its worth the read.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The abyss

This book is a realistic peek into the abyss of madness. It is a strange book in that the main character is a madman and murderer, but also a hero in his way. I found myself on his side and pulling for him to prevail. His madness is very believable and the cause so obvious that this seems to be a true story. The story takes place in Belfast and lets just say that Ireland is put in a bad light here. But Belfast is the only place on earth this kind of madness could exist. The narrator is perfect for this novel with his Irish brogue and he does a great job of making the voices and characters believable. This is the best novel I have downloaded in a while and fits neatly into the top ten of thousands in my library. I hope I hear more from this author.

19 people found this helpful

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  • G. B. Venus
  • 10-20-16

Gerard knows how to tell them!

I tried this book on the back of the Sean Duffy series by Adrian McKinty which I loved. I was very impressed in how Gerard Doyles narrative brought each book to life.

The Ghosts of Belfast had exactly that at the start, ghosts and it was in Belfast. at first I thought this could be a bit ridiculous however the way in which the ghost aspect of the story played out was chilling and very effective. The story had me gripped from start to finish. growing up in Belfast myself, I felt it captured the scene and gritty fearless personalities well.

Highly recommended and I can't wait to start my next Stuart Neville adventure!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-01-22

LOVED IT

Have listened to all Stuart Neville's books twice now. On my third time. only wish there were more. Gerard Doyle is a great Irish Narrated. For me anyway.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Pete
  • 10-04-18

Really great.

Years ago my English teacher gave me "The Sniper" to read. A short story based in the conflict. I remembered that again and came looking for a book from that conflict. I just randomly chose this one. It didn't disappoint. I loved "the followers" concept.