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

I can't just live for the other world. I need to live in this one now.
So say the fallen. So they've said since time began."

- Dennis Lehane, The Drop


Detective Chief Inspector Serena Flanagan focused on the box of tissues that sat on the coffee table between her and Dr. Brady. A leaf of soft paper bursting up and out, ready for her tears. Just like when she'd been diagnosed with cancer. A box like this one had sat close to hand on the desk. She didn't need one then, and she didn't need one now.

Dr. Brady had no interest in abnormal cells, growths, tumours. Flanagan's mind was his concern. He sat cross-legged in the chair on the other side of the table, chewing the end of a biro. It clicked and scratched against his teeth, a persistent noise that triggered memories of exam halls and waiting rooms, and made Flanagan dig at her palms with her nails.

The counsellor pursed his lips and inhaled through his nose in a way that Flanagan found even more irritating than the click-scratch of the pen. Irritating because she knew it preceded another question that she had no desire to answer.

"Do you feel you owe anything to Colin Tandy's family?" he asked.

"No," Flanagan said. "Nothing."

"You're quite emphatic about that."

"He made his choice," she said. "He set out to kill me that morning. He failed. So I killed him."

Dr. Brady paused, his gaze fixed on hers, a small smile on his lips that might have appeared kindly to anyone but Flanagan.

"But you didn't kill him," he said. "You killed the other one, the gunman. Colin Tandy rode away on the motorbike. You had nothing to do with him winding up under a bus."

Flanagan saw herself outside the small terraced house on the outskirts of Lisburn where she'd taken a statement from an assault victim. She remembered the street, the graffiti painted white on red brick. She saw the bike, the two men, the semi-automatic pistol aimed at her, felt the Glock 17's grip in her hand. Something hot splitting the air close to her ear. Then the pillion passenger's helmet cracked open, the jammed pistol useless in his hand. She felt the empty cartridge, sent spinning from the chamber of the Glock, bounce off her cheek. In her mind she heard the brass hit the pavement, a sound like a Christmas bauble falling from the tree, but she knew she couldn't possibly have heard it over the noise of the traffic and the screaming.

She saw the passenger—Peter Hanratty, she later learned—lean back on the motorcycle's pillion seat. Then she put one in his chest. This time the cartridge spun into her hair before falling away, falling like the passenger—except he didn't. His torso hung over the motorcycle's back wheel, his arms suspended at his sides, feet caught on the rests.

Flanagan moved her aim to the rider, saw the fear in his eyes as she aligned the forward and rear sights of her pistol.

Not armed.

The thought pushed through the terrible stillness of her mind. She couldn't shoot him. He wasn't armed. But still she kept pressure on the trigger; a fraction more and the next round would discharge, sending the bullet through the visor of his helmet to pierce him somewhere between his left eye and the bridge of his nose.

They stayed there, both of them, frozen for a second that felt like a day. He knew he was going to die. She knew she was going to kill him. But she couldn't. He wasn't armed.

Flanagan eased her finger from the trigger, released the pressure. He saw the movement of her knuckle, and the bike launched away, spilling the dead passenger to the ground.

She wouldn't find out until later that bike and rider wound up under a bus only two streets away.

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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