The Ghosts of Belfast

The Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville, is a descent into revenge hades. Gerry Fegan, a former IRA killer literally sees ghosts of his victims. It is the appearance of these ghosts that slowly drives him to confront his past and do something about it. Slow by slow, Fegan seeks out those who gave him orders or facilited death. It is this path that forms the spine of the story. Along the way, Fegan meets Marie and her daughter Ellen, who are also trapped in the cycle of revenge exacted by the various factions in Northern Ireland’s troubles. Marie has her own hidden past, but she’s living up to it, going straight in her own way, defying the prejudices of the past by living boldly in the present. Then there is Campbell, the British Government undercover agent pursuing Fegan, another character with more baggage than can fit on the plane. These three and more are on a collision course with misery that unfolds as paybacks become ever more costly.

There is a level of brutality in The Ghosts of Belfast that may be appropriate to the subject matter. At the same time, I hoped for a bit more sophistication such as a protagonist trying to clear his conscience using more than a gun and his heart on a sleeve. The relationship between Fegan and Marie showed great promise at the beginning but never gained traction through the story to a level that would have made it more than a damsel in distress plot point. What Neville does best is to expose the double-triple crosses of the guerilla life and the consequences these shabby alliances create. He portrays the thugs for what they are: less than intelligent men bent on using their fists for no good reason at all. So it is that in this portrayal of a Northern Ireland subculture nobody wins, everyone pays, and corruption rules the day. This book will best be enjoyed by those who like a slow-burn slug fest complete with brawls, trick shots, and death defying duality.

Published in: on April 23, 2011 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Wedding Message

A friend of mine sent me the sample of this wedding video, which was made in Aruba. Listen closely to the words from Reverend Robert Gibson.

That’s an extremely important message backing up a wonderfully produced video. Best of luck to the happy couple. If you’re going to get married in Aruba, I highly recommend Rev. Gibson. This is just a small sample of his quality marriage service.

Bon dia.

Hollywood Smokehouse Diner, Aruba

The Hollywood Smokehouse Diner is located in my favorite Aruba town, San Nicolaas, and the food is worth the drive. It’s easy to find, only 2 blocks from the Main Gate of the refinery. There’s plenty of parking in front. Thus, roll into town, go all the way to the end, and on the corner of Helfrichstraat you’ll find this place ready to serve up some Carolina-style pulled pork and Texas brisket that will impress hard-core barbeque lovers. Here’s a view of the outside. Love that Coca-Cola sign, too.

I opted to try two platters today, one pulled pork, the other beef brisket. Platters are served with cole slaw and a choice of sides. As you can see below, I opted for the potato salad and baked beans, both appropriate to the barbeque vibe. Feast your eyes upon this feast.

All that food for 18 and 22 florins respectively. The brisket is the melt-in-your mouth kind. The pulled pork is tender to the fork. You can also order up simple sides like french fries and so forth, if you’re in the mood for a quick snack on the way to or from Baby Beach. My recommendation, go for the whole meal. Mix and match a couple to share around the table, that way you’ll get the full experience of all the flavors. I might also mention that homemade barbeque sauces are tucked in with each meal. They are also top notch flavors, from mild to hot, hot. (Take the big bottle stuff from the grocery store and throw it away.)

To top the experience off you have Mike and Tina, owners of this joint. Great people, friendly, multi-lingual (English, Spanish, Papiamento), and ready to serve the best. My only problem is I’ll blow the buckle off my belt from chowing down here more often that I should. What a way to go.

Bon dia.