Everywhere in Northern Ireland’s post-Troubles crime fiction, authors ask: What now? Where do the “fighters” go? What about those grim holdouts who refuse to acknowledge that the war is over? What about the innocents left behind—and the not-so-innocents whose connections got them through the fighting propserous and unscathed?
It’s no accident that one of the most honored novels in Northern Ireland’s current crime-fiction boom is Stuart Neville’s The Ghosts of Belfast, whose admirers include James Ellroy and which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2010. Neville’s Gerry Fegan is a former Republican gunman haunted by the ghosts of the men, women and children he has killed. Those ghosts are only the most literal exploration of the Troubles’ afterlife to be found in contemporary Northern Irish crime writing.