So Say the Fallen (The Belfast Novels) - Stuart Neville

It's always a pleasure to write a review of a book so exciting and well written that it consumes you in its storyline and loses you in its content. "So say the Fallen" is also of special interest to me as I am a Northern Ireland ex pat living on mainland UK and it's great to enjoy a story not centred around the troubled history of the province rather a well written and well crafted police thriller.

 

Although on introduction you may be forgiven for believing that this is nothing but a routine murder investigation for the enigmatic Detective Chief Inspector Serena Flanagan but dig deeper and you may be surprised to learn this is more a study and exposure of human emotion, betrayal, conscience and guilt. All good stories must have believable characters with questions and situations that a discerning and intelligent reader can relate to and in this Stuart Neville exceeds. In this finely crafted tale he creates a tour de force edge of the seat thriller that leaves you begging for more ( a little clichéd but truthful statement)

 

Henry Garrick is dead. The evidence appears to point to suicide from a morphine overdose. Although a wealthy man Garrick was bedridden following a near fatal road accident and is tended to on a daily basis by his young and beautiful wife Roberta. To maintain her sanity Roberta looks for comfort and support in the close-knit community of Morganstown and in particular the Reverend Peter McKay. He has his own tragic past as his wife Maggie died suddenly on the kitchen floor from a brain hemorrhage....."But Maggie McKay, who blushed when he touched her, who cried at Audrey Hepburn movies, who was kind and sweet to the very root of her being, everything that she was had ceased to exist. Now she was a vessel of organs and blood and bones and skin and nothing more."

 

The deeply flawed and sad McKay is drawn to the beauty and danger offered by Roberta Garrick, a decision that will result in him questioning the basis of his faith and take him on a journey with inevitable and tragic consequences.

 

Flanagan is troubled over Garrick's apparent suicide and the unexpected death of their daughter Erin Garrick on a Spanish beach some years ago....could there be a connection?..."This is Detective Chief Inspector Serena Flanagan, Police Service of Northern Ireland, based in Lisburn. I need to discuss the case of a child, a British National, who drowned at the beach in Barcelona four years ago. Her name was Erin Garrick, her parents were Henry and Roberta Garrick."

 

Serena Flanagan as befitting the pressurized nature of her job finds it increasingly impossible to balance the demands of a difficult investigation and maintain a happy home life with husband Alistair and their children Eli and Ruth. In addition Alistair has resentment concerning a stabbing some two years ago and seems unsupportive in Serena's cancer diagnosis and remission....."Is this really it? Is this how it ends? Not with an explosive row, nor a discovered affair. No final betrayal to sever them. Just a slow decline of bitter reproaches and fake apologies until there was nothing left but a festering resentment between them all."

 

This story is about life; its highs and lows; love and loss; temptation and guilt. It questions the reality of our everyday existence looking at what we perceive as important may not necessarily be so. It shows a world in which only the strong, resolute and determined can hope to survive and concludes with a question that we all hope can be answered in the positive...."We're going to be all right, aren't we?"

 

I received a gratis copy of this superb thriller from edelweiss in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.