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Download Killing Ground (Windsor Selections S) epub

by Gerald Seymour

Download Killing Ground (Windsor Selections S) epub
ISBN: 0754010147
ISBN13: 978-0754010142
Category: Mystery
Subcategory: Thrillers & Suspense
Author: Gerald Seymour
Language: English
Publisher: Chivers P; Large Print e. edition (October 1, 1997)
Pages: 669 pages
ePUB size: 1257 kb
FB2 size: 1378 kb
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 275
Other Formats: doc lit azw mbr

Extremely good read dealing with the "Troubles" between the IRA and the British during circa the late 1960s and early 1970s in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The plot centers around the assassination of a British MP by the IRA in London and the response of the British Government in tracking down the assassin via a covert operation that sends a British SAS officer into the Belfast Republican ghettos to deal with the situation.

Yorkshire Productions, UK, did a mini-series based upon this book and while the series was fairly well done and faithful to the book, the book gives a better, over all feel and picture of the events and the underlying currents, emotions and political atmosphere of the time and the events that were occurring between the IRA and the British Military in maintaining order in British occupied Ireland.
Reread it after 20 years. Still a masterpiece. Well worth the revisit. Hopefully now historical but one never knows. Let's hope and pray not
Gerald Seymour continues to amaze me with his characterizations and the painstaking manner in which he builds them into actors within a complex fabric of plots that unravel, layer by layer with all the nuances and genuineness of real life situations into gripping, and heart-stopping drama. I think this novel on the Mafioso in Sicily is his best and a masterpiece as it walks the reader through a world where terror resides in the heart of society and those brave enough to publicly voice opposition to this insidious secret society do so at mortal risk.
Great read. Well developed characters.
(Note: bought the book from a used book shop, reviewed on my own blog in 2010, but just now posting it here)

Any book Gerald Seymour writes about the troubles in Northern Ireland is probably worth the read. He was one of ITN's top reporters covering the situation between 1969 and 1976. His novel, Harry's Game, has the copyright date of 1975, so that puts the timing of the narrative, probably after Bloody Sunday, but well before the Hunger Strikes.

It was made into a miniseries in 1982. So, ask me, why am I reviewing a book written so long ago, that's already made it as a miniseries?

Because it's still a good read, and I missed the miniseries (and it's not like I care how old a book is or how much footage it inspired; I may review Little Dorret next).

Because it's a good education for anyone wanting to know the background of the troubles.

Because I recently moved to an area right within walking distance of most of the action in the narrative.

We are a bit new to the area. When people comment on my accent, I tell them, "We're Irish. We've just been away too long" (but people outside Ireland think I sound Irish). My dad was an East Belfast man. My cousins on his side of the family still live there. My Uncle Bob (my namesake) passed away during the general period covered in the book.

We recently moved from Thailand back to NI, and found a nice house in North Belfast. Belfast isn't a major metropolis, but my East Belfast cousins hardly knew the lay of the streets before they came to look us up. Our area, and nearby West Belfast are the areas known for the Troubles (with a capital "T"), whereas East Belfast has always been relatively peaceful. Relocating from East Belfast to West is almost tantamount to emigration -- let alone moving from Thailand.

The other day, I decided to walk, rather than take the bus, from my home to the city centre. I took a short cut down the footpath behind the Ballysillan Leisure Centre, which ran into the top end of Ardoyne Road, the very neighbourhood where Billy Downs lived (the assassin in the story). A lot of development has taken place since those days, but one section of it, closer to Crumlin Road, looked like it was still run down with lots of Nationalist graffiti. However, some of the more prominent murals look like an attempt to put the Troubles behind them. One prominent sign, facing the roads leading in from Shankill says, "Please respect our community."

I walked straight from there into the Shankill area, which I probably couldn't have have done in the early days of the troubles, because Shankill is as hard core Prod as Ardoyne is Catholic.

While parts of Harry's Game may read like a tour guide to those who have spent time in the area, Gerald Seymour is equally knowledgeable about the people themselves, their culture, their fears, the hatred and whatever else makes them tic.

Harry, the leading character, was actually from Portadown (a town an hour's drive South of Belfast), who spent most of his life in the army away from Northern Ireland. When British Intelligence asks him to go under-cover to Belfast to seek out the assassin of a cabinet minister, he has to learn how to speak in a West Belfast accent. He has only two weeks to prepare. He also learns the style of the Falls Road residents, that bred by suspicion and fear of outsiders, and a fear of saying too much.

Within the two weeks he has to prepare, he cultures an accent that pleases his superiors, but we find that not everyone in West Belfast is fooled. His land lady wonders that he sounds authentically West Belfast for a few words, and then suddenly other sounds creep in. It doesn't seem natural. She mentions it to a neighbour over the back fence. Tight knit community that it is, word gets to the local IRA lookout who reports the fact to the Brigade intelligence officer. They decide to keep an eye on the stranger.

This isn't adventure hero fiction. Harry isn't James Bond -- nor even "Dirty Harry". This is true to life fiction. Things happen like they would in real life. People bungle, especially the Secret Service network giving support to Harry. First, they direct him to the wrong type of guest-house. He realises that and finds a more appropriate one himself, up Falls Road, the more likely place to find an IRA assassin. Because they don't know where he is, Harry's boss is dependent on the occasional phone call he makes from the city centre. This is highly unusual for an intelligence operation. Other parties, like the police and the army, have their opinion about this.

It would never happen to James Bond, but, as we said...

By a miracle, Harry happens to make friends with the right girl. Parental warning here: read it yourself first, before passing it on to your teenager. After an intimate scene, the girlfriend Josephine, lets out some information that might be a lead. Harry passes this on to his boss, and he, to the Army people in Belfast. They pick up a girl, Theresa, who happened to get intimate with the assassin Harry is looking for.

Theresa lets out only enough information to confirm that it was the the man they were looking for, no name, no description, then she kills herself.

While the powers-that-be agree that Harry did his job well, things are a mess. Riots ensue. The hit man, Billy Downs, is assigned a revenge attack on the RUC chief of interrogation, whom the IRA holds responsible for the death of the girl.

As for Harry, he's run out of leads. He gets a job in a scrap yard, and digs in for the long haul. Where James Bond would always have a card up his sleeve and keep the movie audience on the edge of their seats, our real-world spy has run out of tricks.

But don't worry. There's enough happening on the other fronts to keep the story moving. All the while, we see the way things are done behind closed doors; how more assassinations are being planned; how important people are known on a need-to-know basis; guns and other weapons are used and immediately removed so that no one actually has a gun when the army is doing a routine search; how doors are left open so that snipers flee the scene by entering by the front door, while the family is having their supper, and out the back. We find out what Mrs. Down's really thinks about her husband being an assassin -- once she guesses the truth.

Finally, Harry's girlfriend puts two and two together: her mentioning it to Harry was what led to the poor girl, Theresa, being rounded up and killing herself. Then, Harry makes a slip of the tongue that confirms that he isn't who he's saying he is. Josephine grills him, but because she isn't a die-hard fanatic for the Republican cause, she lets it go. In the process, she lets slip another small detail that leads to Billy Down's identification.

Then, things begin to build up to a climax. The IRA people are about to catch Harry. The tables turn, but not in a James Bond sort of way, and Harry is after his man. The ending is climactic, but it's the type of thing that could happen in real life -- a lesson to be learned.

It's not a story about heroes versus villains, only the people on both sides. In the end, you'll find you've not really identified 100% with either side. It will help you appreciate the facts on the ground.
It's a slow simmering thriller from Mr. Seymour that has a powerful blast at the end! You are gripped by the variety of characters that are introduced and by the vivid depiction of Sicily and Palermo. It seems Mr. Seymour likes to write big fat books about the mafia because this one, the "Killing Ground", "The Collaborator" and his other one, "The Untouchable" are almost all 500 to 600 pages long. But, I don't mind reading them! They are awesome! This one is an excellent story about the Sicily "La Costra Mafia" that has vividly described the characters, the city of Palermo and it's the countryside, coastline, some mafia history and even Mondello beach gets a mention. You feel as though you're walking with the crowds of tourists that come to see the sights knowing that somewhere not to far the LA Costra are there too. But the more you read the story, the more it feels like as though, somehow, you are allowed to move from the crowds of onlookers and tourists and peer over the shoulder of Charlie to see how they, the mafia, live and spend each day. You begin to see the sad and depressing Angela who stays in bed a lot and takes pills and tablets to get her through the day. Then, there are the children who don't really know yet what their father, their uncle and their 'family' as whole do for a living. Then there's Mario, Salvatore, Peppino and a few others that form the inner sanctum of 'The Family'. They are the killers. They butcher and they are brutal, especially Mario, the godfather. For example, his preferred way to kill people was to simply strangle his victims with his bare hands because it is less messy and it leaves less evidence for the Direzione Investigativa Anti-Mafia to find.

While, on the other side of the fence, there are the Carabiniere (the Italian drug enforcement agency) that have the troubled and below par Pasquale, Axel Moen the pony tailed American, Giancarlo from surveillance, Benetto or Benny to his friends and also the good judge, Dr. Tardelli just to fly a few names around. If that's not enough, then there is Det. Serg. Harry Crompton from the NCIS gets involved and there is a journalist who somehow has no idea who the mafia are or where to find them. To cap it all off, with all that going on, there's the usual banter between the intelligence agencies too. So, it's with little wonder that the book is just a smidge under 500 pages.

Mr. Seymour, however, doesn't get bogged down in so much detail that he loses the plot line, no sir. As an accomplished writer, he gets about halfway through the book and moves on from story detail to story line and then slowly builds up the tension. By the end of the story, you wonder what will happen to Charlie because 'they' know and people start to go missing. She goes literally from the 'vipers home' so to speak, into the 'viper's pit'. Mr. Seymour was able to build up and build up the tension so much that it became almost unbearable, but I must admit that you'll have makeup your own mind about the ending. It wasn't what I was expecting and I can't say that I agree with it very much. But, that said and done, it was a real pleasure reading this story from Mr. Seymour! Five Stars!

(I'm not sure if this has been released in the US yet because I bought this copy in Australia off the book shelf for a whopping $23! Australia is a very nice place, nice people and nice scenery and the food is great too, but some of the prices are certainly on the expensive side. Anyway, it was worth the money and it was a good reminder of Sicily even though it was bought in Australia and read in Japan!?)