Excerpt from So Say the Fallen by Stuart Neville, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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So Say the Fallen

The Belfast Novels

by Stuart Neville

So Say the Fallen by Stuart Neville X
So Say the Fallen by Stuart Neville
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2016, 336 pages

    Jun 2017, 336 pages


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Gary Presley
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Tandy didn't die. Not then. He lived on, if it could be called living, for another five years before what remained of him slipped away. Detective Superintendent Purdy had told her in the canteen at Lisburn station during lunch a few weeks ago. Perhaps he could have chosen a better time and place, but how was he to know? Flanagan herself wouldn't have dreamed the news would tear her in two.

She broke down there in the canteen, in front of everybody— constables, sergeants, inspectors, detectives, cooks, cleaners. They all saw her collapse, levelled by a desperate grief for a man that deserved none from her.

Six sessions she'd had, now. At the end of the first, as Dr. Brady glanced once again at the clock on the wall behind Flanagan, he told her what she'd already figured out for herself: every possible emotion she had about that morning more than five years ago had been wrapped up, tied down, stowed away while Tandy lived the nonlife he had condemned himself to. Only when his body followed his brain into death did the memory rupture and every distorted feeling spill out where she could no longer deny it. Guilt at the men's deaths, fear at almost meeting her own, elation at surviving, sorrow for their families. These things had grown there in the dark, swelling and bloating like the rogue cells in her breast, until the whole of it flooded her at once, drowning her, more emotion than she could hold within.

Flanagan didn't remember much about the incident now, the initial breakdown, only how frightened DSI Purdy had looked, the shock on his face. Looking back now, weeks later, it seemed as if she had watched herself from across the room, seeing some other woman splinter into jagged pieces. And if she could, she would have told that woman to pull herself together, not to make a spectacle of herself.

A week of leave and three months of counselling had been prescribed. As if that would fix everything, as if this smug doctor could plaster over the fissures in Flanagan's mind by simply talking about the incident.

She and Alistair used the unexpected break to book a last-minute holiday in Portstewart on the north coast. An apartment near the old golf course, overlooking the sea. It was a good week. Days spent at the Strand, the long sandy beach at the other end of the town, even if the weather didn't justify it. They ate at the new restaurant between the dunes, a converted National Trust building, little more than a shack on the beach. Glorious breakfasts and lunches devoured before returning to the sand and the water.

Almost a week of peace, as near to happiness as they'd come in the last year.

One night, as sea spray whispered on the bedroom window, they talked about the proposed counselling. "What harm could it do?" Alistair asked.

More than you can imagine, Flanagan had thought. But she said, "All right, I'll give it a go."

And Alistair had put his arms around her and they had made love for the first time in months. He had no nightmares that night, had barely any during the week by the sea. But after, when they returned to their house outside Moira, the terrors came back. There had been little intimacy between Flanagan and her husband since.

"Time," Dr. Brady said, smiling that fake smile of his.

Flanagan looked over her shoulder and saw that the session was done. She quietly thanked God and left the room with the most cursory farewell she could get away with.


Roberta Garrick walked him along the hall to the rear sitting room of her beautiful house. The room that had been converted to a hospital ward. Reverend Peter McKay followed her, feeling as if she dragged him by a piece of string. Conflicting desires battled within him: the desire for her body, the fear of the room beyond, the need to run. But he walked on regardless, as much by Roberta's volition as by his own. Mrs. Garrick. After all that had happened, he had only recently stopped thinking of her by that name. Even when he had bitten her neck at the force of his climax, her thighs tight around his waist, she had still been Mrs. Garrick to him. She was Roberta now, and the intimacy of using her first name frightened him.

Excerpted from So Say the Fallen by Stuart Neville. Copyright © 2016 by Stuart Neville. Excerpted by permission of Soho Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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