‘Those We Left Behind’ is the first book in a new series by Stuart Neville featuring DCI Serena Flanagan. Serena Flanagan made an appearance in an earlier Stuart Neville novel – ‘The Final Silence’.
Seven years ago when Serena was a Detective Sergeant, she spent days with 12 year old Ciaran Devine to gain his trust. Ciaran confessed to the murder of his foster carer and has spent 7 years in the juvenile justice system. Most people believe that Ciaran lied to save his older brother Thomas from a lengthier sentence, but they could never prove it.
Now Ciaran, aged 19, has been released and reunited with Thomas (who served 5 years as an accessory). He has never forgotten the kindness shown to him by Serena. Probation officer Paula Cunningham has reluctantly taken Ciaran’s case.
The son of the murdered man – Daniel Rolston is distressed by the release of the Devine brothers who destroyed his family. When Daniel starts to stalk the Devine brothers and approaches Paula Cunningham, the situation starts to get out of control.
Serena gets involved and tries to reignite the closeness that she had with Ciaran years ago. But, this backfires and pretty soon Serena finds her work and home life deteriorating. She realises that the only way to resolve the situation is to defy her boss and husband and take matters into her own hands.
Eventually the truth about Thomas and Ciaran is uncovered and it is completely different from what anyone could have imagined. The end of the story is very emotional and fitting to the tragic lives that Thomas and Ciaran Devine have lived.
Serena will have a long road back to patch up her work and home life.
This was an excellent story. It was real and gritty and certainly didn’t dissolve into a happily ever after ending. Belfast played much less of a role in the story than in Stuart Neville’s earlier novels featuring Jack Lennon.
I’m looking forward to seeing more of Serena Flanagan as the series progresses and hopefully there will be a future appearance for Lennon as well.
Next Serena Flanagan novel – ‘So Say The Fallen‘.
Book Published 2015