Even if Stuart Neville never wrote another word after The Ghosts of Belfast (aka The Twelve), his name would still be firmly etched in the annals of crime fiction. As a debut novel, it is impossible to ask for more from a storyteller. Fortunately, Stuart Neville’s literary output did not end there and readers can now enjoy four other books from this master storyteller. Just this week, the latest book in the Jack Lennon series was released. The Final Silence not only continues the story of Neville’s lead police inspector, but it also proves that his writing talents know few bounds. The Final Silence may just be the best book yet in a career that is only just getting started.

The novel opens with Lennon’s former flame, Rea Carlisle, helping to clean out the home of her recently deceased uncle. When she and her mother discover a locked door, their curiosity about what could be hidden behind the door is piqued. Once inside, Rea finds a table, a chair and a journal. Flipping through the pages of the scrapbook, she finds locks of hair, fingernail clippings, and other souvenirs from what appears to be victims her uncle killed. The text accompanying the items detail the name, date and method of killing used with each individual.

Unsure of what to do, Rea reaches out to the one man she can trust to help her, but who will also keep things quiet – Jack Lennon. They haven’t spoken in years, but Lennon does still harbor an affinity for Rea, so he listens to her story, even if he doesn’t exactly believe the journal’s content is real. However, before he can verify anything, the book goes missing and he is left with nothing but an old photograph on which to base his investigation.

Since Jack Lennon has been on leave from the police department after a recent officer involved shooting, his investigation puts him directly in the line of sight of DCI Serena Flanagan. Flanagan is dealing with some heavy personal issues and is in no mood to mollycoddle Lennon. Additionally, both officers must deal with Rea’s family and their desire to squash any mention of this tawdry journal. Rea’s father is planning to run for political office and he strongly feels that the any revelations of impropriety could hurt his chances in the election. Rea’s mother, meanwhile, seems sure that her brother was guilty, but is unable to convince her husband to cooperate with the police.

Stuart Neville’s writing style flows so easily that many readers will find that they are able to finish this novel in just a few sittings. The story is compelling and the characters are well-developed, with both strong attributes and realistic flaws. Fans of the series will know of Jack Lennon’s home-life problems, but new readers will quickly understand his unique situation. Both will be anxious to see how these personal issues resolve themselves. Similarly, Serena Flanagan (while a new character to the series), will quickly become a fan favorite and readers will no doubt hope to see her featured in future books.

One of the real strengths in Stuart Neville’s series has always been his ability to weave in the historical trails and tribulations Ireland has faced. Those elements are less pervasive in The Final Silence, but still the motivations for some actions are rooted in Ireland’s troubled past. This makes for a nice mixture within the series, as readers sense that Neville is not interested in just throwing in his extensive knowledge of Ireland’s past, but instead only includes these facts when they serve the current story that he is trying to tell.

The plotlines in this series continue to get better and the characterizations deeper. Readers will soon be clamoring for the next Jack Lennon novel from Stuart Neville.

_____________________________________________________________________ Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher (at BookExpo America). No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.