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October 6, 2010

Book Notes - Stuart Neville ("Collusion")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

The Ghosts of Belfast (published in the UK as The Twelve) earned author Stuart Neville praise on both sides of the Atlantic last year, and its sequel is even more impressive. Collusion is gritty an honest portrayal of post-ceasefire northern Ireland. A dark and compelling blend of noir fiction and political unrest, the book is reminiscent of the finest works of James Ellroy.

The Daily Mail wrote of the book:

"If you liked Neville's debut thriller The Twelve last year, his second is even better. Utterly authentic and with a bone-crunching punch, Collusion suggests Neville may just have the talent to rival his hero James Ellroy when it comes to harsh, black thrillers."

In his own words, here is Stuart Neville's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, Collusion:

In the year since my first novel, The Ghosts of Belfast, was published, I've been drawing closer to my rock roots. With one or two exceptions, I think this playlist for the sequel Collusion illustrates that point. As AC/DC almost said: "For those about to read, we salute you."

"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" - AC/DC

Very early in the book we meet the Traveler, a hit man, and a very nasty piece of work. When Bull O'Kane asks him if he'll do women and children, the Traveler replies, 'Depends on the money.'

"Dancing in the Dark" - Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen has a knack for hitting the nail on the head with his lyrics, and this deceptively poppy track captures male discontent so well. Jack Lennon, Collusion's leading man along with Gerry Fegan, is at a point in his life where age is catching up with him, yet he's reluctant to let go of his philandering past. I can imagine him listening to this in the apartment he can't afford.

"Seattle" - The Brighton Port Authority featuring Emmy the Great

When we first meet Gerry Fegan in Collusion, he's hiding in New York. He loves this city, the anonymity it grants him, that it has "no memory". Although this song's title references a different city, it hints at the mythical idea of America granting the immigrant a new start: "Forget where you have been, remember where you are. You'll find a new day dawning every single morning in America."

"Whole Wide World" - Wreckless Eric

Jack Lennon spends most of Collusion searching for his estranged daughter and her mother, his former lover. Like young Eric, he'd go the whole wide world to find them.

"Midnight Rambler" - The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger's ode to serial killers seems a rather appropriate backing track for the Traveler as he makes his way around Belfast, leaving dead bodies in his wake.

"Backstabber" - The Dresden Dolls

As Lennon digs deeper into the events surrounding his daughter's disappearance, he is told to back off by his superiors. Every step of the way, he is double-crossed and betrayed by those he should be able to trust. Backstabbers, in other words.

"Comin' Home" - Deep Purple

Of course Gerry Fegan can't stay in New York when the past catches up with him. He has unfinished business back in Belfast, so buys a ticket and is on his way.

"Nobody's Fault but Mine" - Led Zeppelin

There'll be one more complication if Jack Lennon manages to track down his former lover Marie and their daughter Ellen: he must acknowledge his own wrongdoings and betrayals. And when it comes right down to it, he knows he has no one else to blame but himself.

"One Last Soul" - Black Country Communion

With those he loves in the Traveler's sights, Jack Lennon realises there's only one man who can help him confront the evil that endangers them. He knows Gerry Fegan is a killer and a madman. He also knows Gerry is "the one last soul who can win it, the one last soul who can try."

"Burning Down the House" - Talking Heads

Throughout Collusion, both Gerry Fegan and Lennon's daughter Ellen are beset with visions of burning. The dreams of fire come true in the final showdown, and few will survive.

Stuart Neville and Collusion links:

the author's website
the author's blog
the book's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Bite the Book review
Daily Mail review
Euro Crime review
ForeWord review
Guardian review
Hyraxia review
International Noir Fiction review
Irish Independent review
Irish Times review review
New York Journal of Books review
PopMatters review
Sunday Tribune review

The Book Depository interview with the author
Critical Mick interview with the author
Culture Northern Ireland profile of the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes music playlist by the author for the novel The Ghosts of Belfast

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

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