Book Review: The Twelve by Stuart Neville and the next book club pick!

Last month’s book club pick was ‘The Twelve’ by Stuart Neville.  So what was it about?  The blurb reads:

Gerry Fegan, a former paramilitary contract killer, is haunted by the ghosts of the 12 people he has slaughtered. Every night, on the point of losing his mind, he drowns their screams in drink. His solution is to kill those who engineered their deaths.

From the greedy politicians to the corrupt security forces, the street thugs to the complacent bystanders who let it happen, all are called to account. But when Fegan’s vendetta threatens to derail a hard-won truce and destabilise the government, old comrades and enemies alike want him dead. 

I love horror/crime cross overs, in fact the novel I am currently writing is of that particular literary genre, and since this was by a local, Northern Irish writer, I thought it would be the perfect choice!

This book is certainly not for the faint hearted.  The violence is plentiful, and incredibly brutal.  I often think that action scenes are difficult to convey in the written form, but Stuart Neville paints an incredibly vivid picture.  I could easily imagine every bullet fired and drop of blood shed, in full, technicolour glory.  The story line is entertaining, a good old fashioned, gritty tale of redemption, and revenge with a dose of the paranormal mixed in for good measure.  It deals with Northern Irelands past, without being biased towards one side or the other, which with the main character being an ex-paramilitary terrorist, is a feat in of itself.  What I would say, if you are unfamiliar with ‘The Troubles’ as my country’s tumultuous history has been coined, many references within the book would mean very little to you you, so I suggest a quick google search before picking it up.  The main character is believable, and fully fleshed out…he is likeable, despite the terrible things he has done in the past, because he knows what he is, and accepts he deserves to suffer for those sins, and most importantly, because he is trying to redeem himself.

Overall, I found it entertaining and would recommend it to anyone looking for an action packed read!

essex serpant

Next up for book club, is ‘The Essex Serpent’ by Sarah Perry.  What’s it about?  Let’s check the trusty blurb:

London 1893.  When Cora Seaborne’s husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one, and she never suited the role of society wife.  Accompanied by her son Francis- a curious obsessive boy- she leaves town for Essex, where she hopes fresh air and open space will provide the refuge they need.


When they take lodgings in Colchester, rumours reach them from further up the estuary that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter.  Cora, a keen amateur  naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, is immediately enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a previously undiscovered species.  As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar.

Like Cora, Will is deeply suspicious of the rumours, but he thinks they are founded on moral panic, a flight from real faith.  As he tries to calm his parishioners, he and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart, eventually changing each other’s lives in a way entirely unexpected.

It’s easy to join my book club- just read along with me and let me know your thoughts on the book!


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