Review: Collusion is a sequel to Stuart Neville's first thriller, The Ghosts of Belfast. And while it is written a stand-alone novel, there are so many references to people and events in the previous book that readers who have not read the first may not fully appreciate — or even understand — the motivations of the principal characters here.
Set largely in and around Belfast, the story alternates from the perspectives of three men: Detective Inspector Jack Lennon, a semi-reformed terrorist named Gerry Fegan (the main character from the previous book), and a killer for hire known only at The Traveler. All are seeking — but for different reasons — the same person: Marie McKenna (also featured in the previous book) and her young daughter Ellen. And each is using the other to gain an advantage in their search.
The plot proceeds exceedingly slowly for about 90% of the book; very little happens of any consequence until the three men meet in the final pages at which time the pace finally picks up a bit. There's an astonishing amount of filler here; Fegan's time in the United States, for example, could have been eliminated in its entirety with absolutely no loss of continuity; it is completely irrelevant to the overall plot and does nothing to develop his character in any meaningful way. As for what happens in Northern Ireland, students of the historical conflict in the region may be interested in how these men relate to one another, but for everyone else they're almost interchangeable, their politics and loyalties immaterial. In one respect, given the book's title, that's probably not only intended but expected. As Lennon says at one point, "The collusion, it goes all ways, all directions. All the likes of you ever cared about was lining your own pockets. You didn't give a shit about any cause, did you? Just so long as you were making money."
The literary quality of Collusion cannot be denied, it is an exceptionally well written book; but the story here is so pedestrian, and so drawn out, and so tedious and mundane that it feels many times longer than it really is. Indeed, for all practical purposes, it is not a sequel but merely an epilogue to The Ghosts of Belfast that has been extended into novel-length form.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of Collusion for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Ghosts of Belfast
Soho Crime (Hardcover), October 2009
ISBN-13: 9781569476000; ISBN-10: 1569476004
Soho Crime (Hardcover), October 2011
ISBN-13: 9781569479834; ISBN-10: 1569479836
Location(s) referenced in Collusion: Belfast, Northern Ireland, New York City
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Collusion by Stuart Neville — A Jack Lennon Mystery
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: October 2010
List Price: $25.00