Soho Press, Inc., $26.95, 340 pages, ISBN 978-1-61695-548-9
If you think about it, all of us have two faces. The first is the one we show to the world and the second is our private self—the inner person—the person we truly are, where our secret interests lie. Usually they’re harmless enough . . . a dedicated coin or stamp collector for instance, maybe an interest in a specific subject, genealogy or the Civil War for example . . . but there’s a dark side too, drinking or drug addiction for instance. Maybe something worse. Spousal abuse. Gambling. Self Mutilation. The list is endless and inventive, as unlimited as all of human imagination and as deep as the depths of human depravity.
Now, in a masterly psycho-thriller from one of my favorite Irish writers, comes a neo-noir work of exceptional talent that takes a head-on, close examination of just such a taboo subject.
The Final Silence, by Stuart Neville takes place in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It begins when Rea Carlisle, the daughter of a rising political star named Graham Carlisle, inherits a house with a locked room from an uncle she never knew. After disposing of all the accumulated junk in the rest of the house, she forces open the locked room and discovers that it contains only a desk, a chair and a large scrapbook full of macabre souvenirs—fingernails, locks of hair—and a catalog of victims, all of whom have been murdered. Rea wants to take it to the police, but her father stops her, claiming he’ll be hurt by the revelation in the coming election and lose his position. Rea turns to a disgraced police inspector named Jack Lennon for help. But Lennon himself becomes the lead suspect in a murder investigation and the hunt takes several grisly turns, each one leading Lennon deeper into a past that’s ever closer to ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland’. The drama, pacing and language all combine to make for a relentless story . . . one you’ll not want to stop reading! If you have any interest in modern Irish history or The Troubles, as the sectarian violence of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s came to be known, I’d suggest reading this and Neville’s other works, especially The Ghosts of Belfast, which is about an ex-IRA hitman.