Dark Passages: Seeking Peace for Victims, Self

I admit, self-promotion here has been kind of rampant, but such is the convergence of several pieces written at different times appearing almost simultaneously! To wit, my newest Dark Passages column, which looks at one of my favorite debut crime novels of the year, THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST (aka THE TWELVE) by Stuart Neville. Here’s how it opens:

A few years ago, while abroad for a summer semester in England, I flew
over to Ireland for a short vacation over the Bank Holiday weekend. I
spent much of the time in Dublin but before getting there, I had a
day's layover in Belfast. And though one only needs 24 hours or so to
see the entire city (including the excellent mystery bookshop No
Alibis), it haunts me still.

At that point, The Troubles — the three-decade-long strife between the
Roman Catholic Nationalists and the Protestant Unionists — were
supposed to be a memory thanks to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
But away from downtown and closer to the projects, the Republic's
orange colors shone with equal ferocity to the Loyalists' emerald
green, and as a group of straggling young boys played soccer in the
fields, the ghosts of those who died for and against causes they may
not have understood seemed to loiter about the area. Peace in our time?
Perhaps, but I left with the feeling history hadn't set down its
definitive answer.

Six years later, the ground beneath the feet of peace began to shift,
coinciding with the mini-boom in Irish crime fiction. Much of it,
however, has been set in the Republic — such as Benjamin Black's
1950s-era Dublin or Ken Bruen's doomed Galway — while the North has
been the mainstay of Colin Bateman's satirical work. The Troubles led
to plenty of spilled ink during their heyday and wane (including Eoin
McNamee's "Resurrection Man," published near the end, in 1995) but
little afterward. Now, however, a new voice has laid claim to such a
task, climbing through the muck and sifting through the blood to
produce a crime novel that counts among the best brought out this
calendar year….

  Read on for the rest, and why I made this particular claim about Neville's first outing.