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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Print Excerpt

She stopped at the door, snug in its frame, and took the handle in her palm. For the hundredth time, McKay noted the length of her fingers, the smooth near-perfection of her skin, the nails just long enough to scratch. She turned the handle and pushed the door.

Her husband, still Mr. Garrick to him in spite of all the hours McKay had spent at this bedside, lay where he'd left him last night. But dead now. Even from the doorway, from the other side of the room, it was obvious a corpse lay there. McKay imagined if he touched Mr. Garrick's forearm the skin would be cold against his fingertips. Like a side of meat.

Bile lurched up into McKay's throat at the thought, and he swallowed it. Now was not the time to be squeamish. He had been a rector for two decades, presided over more funerals than he could remember, seen hundreds of cadavers lying in a waxy illusion of sleep. This was no different.

Keep hold of yourself, he thought. Whatever happens, keep hold of yourself.

Roberta took slow, measured steps from the threshold to her husband's side. McKay followed, keeping back from the bedside. What had once been a spacious sitting room was now cramped, with a wardrobe and a chest of drawers, a bedside table, a television on the wall and, facing that, the electric care bed.

A care bed. Not a hospital bed. Mr. Garrick had been quite clear about the distinction, though McKay could see little difference between this and the beds that populated every hospital ward he'd ever visited. Cost thousands, Mr. Garrick had said. It lay positioned so that he could see through the patio doors, out onto the beautifully tended garden and the trees beyond. Now the curtains were drawn, and the sun would never shine on Henry Garrick again.

McKay put a hand on Roberta's firm, still shoulder and felt the warmth of her through the fabric of her light dressing gown. Warm skin, not cold, like her husband's would surely be. McKay swallowed bile once more. He squeezed gently, but if she felt the tightening of his fingers she did not let it show.

Her husband lay like a man in sound sleep, his mouth open, his eyes closed. A snore should have rattled out of him. What devastation, McKay thought. How Mr. Garrick had lived this long was mystery enough. A little less than six months ago he had been driving his favourite car, an early seventies Aston Martin V8 Vantage, through the country lanes that surrounded the village. The investigators had estimated his speed at the time of the accident as approximately fifty-five miles per hour. Charging around the bend, he had managed to swerve past all but one of the cluster of cyclists he had come upon. One of them, a young father of two, had died within moments of being struck, his helmet doing him little good against the force of the impact with the Aston's bonnet.

Mr. Garrick had not been so lucky. As the car swerved then spun, it swept through a hedgerow before barrel-rolling across a ditch and into a tree. The car's front end buckled, forcing the engine back into the cabin, taking Mr. Garrick's legs.

The fire had started soon after. The cyclists who had such a narrow escape did all they could, one of them suffering severe burns as he dragged what remained of Mr. Garrick from the wreck. Another was a nurse, well experienced in trauma surgery. They kept him alive, whether or not it was a merciful act.

Regardless, now he lay dead, drool crusting on his scarred chin. Pale pink yogurt clinging to the wispy strands of his moustache. The same yogurt his nightly sachet of morphine granules was mixed with. Ten empty sachets lay scattered on the table over his bed, behind the row of framed photographs. One of Mr. Garrick's parents, long gone, one of him and Roberta on their wedding day, another of his wife, tanned and glowing, smiling up from a beach towel. Then finally a small oval picture of Erin, the child they had lost before her second birthday.

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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