Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Twelve

Stuart Neville
Gerry Fegan is an assassin. His tally of kills is impressive. At point blank range he has shot dead twelve people. These include a teenager who told tales, and a policeman collecting his son from school. A bomb he planted in a butcher's shop killed a mother with her baby.
It's not much to boast about -"I'm hard enough to kill you." Little wonder Gerry has no friends and his mother disowned him before she died. Even among the gangsters he runs with, his reputation precedes him; there's such a thin line between fear and respect; he has become a pariah. Only the desperate with nothing to lose will confront him. The grieving mother of the dead teenager demands to know where her son's body lies.
How can Gerry live with himself?
The simple answer is that he can't. Everywhere he turns he's surrounded by the ghosts of the twelve. They haunt his waking hours and sabotage his sleep. Even after too much whiskey he can hear them screaming in his dreams.
The sort of man he is, Gerry decides the only way to stop the screaming in his head is to kill those who asked him to kill: the godfathers who controlled him, the hard men who kept their hands clean, and the weak men who betrayed their friends for money or from fear.
As Jesus said in the Bible: "...for all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword." (Matt 26:52)
It's clear from the story that Gerry was always good at his job. Even now in the horrors from drink he can still kill cleanly and quickly. And cover his tracks with stealth. His first revenge killing is Michael McKenna, an unscrupulous business man who years before ordered him to shoot the teenage boy.
At McKenna's wake Gerry meets beautiful Marie McKenna. With her Uncle Michael dead, Marie is at the mercy of the head honcho godfather, Paul McGinty, who may or may not be the father of her little daughter Ellen. McGinty's now an important politician, he has his reputation to consider, he wants Marie out of the way. But Marie refuses to let him run her out of town. When things get nasty Gerry helps her escape with Ellen to a safe house in the country.
I suspect had he made some different life choices early in his career Gerry Fegan might have become a glamorous James Bond character for Marie obviously fancies him and he's not so cold blooded he can't befriend the fatherless Ellen. Even now, if only the voices in his head would leave him alone, there might be a happy ever after for Gerry and Marie and Ellen.
It's not to be. Gerry resumes his vengeful vendetta. He shoots dead a double crossing policeman who sold information about his fellow officers, he stabs a priest who turned his back on dying men, he batters to death with a brick a bully boy who was happy to pull out a man's teeth with pliers but left Gerry to finish him off with a bullet.
Soon the ghetto's in uproar. Gerry is opening a can of worms that everyone wants to keep closed. Next on his hit list is McGinty who ordered him to plant the bomb which killed the woman and her baby in the butcher's shop. But if McGinty is killed, the fragile peace process, thirty years coming, is in jeopardy.
Gerry Fegan must be stopped.
Double agent Davy Campbell, a man of remorseless callousness, is unleashed by his government handlers and pointed in the direction of Gerry, with one instruction: "Stop him."

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