Michael Flaherty, a priest in New York and former member of the Special Forces, returns home to an Irish island after his brother went missing. While uncovering what happened to his brother he also gets confronted with his own past...
I found Second Son rather confusing with all its unexplained characters, and it took me a while to get into the story. I also got the impression that the author tried to put too much stuff into the book, like the angle with the mafia, thereby watering down the story.
Some quotes from the book
One by one they were dragged out for interrogation. The ones taken never returned, but the screams pulsed through the walls and the stench of fear intensified in the tiny cell.
A brief call to his old friend Casey Baines in boot camp and Skald, Ted would be speaking with a little more respect and in a higher register than hitherfuckingto, yessir. And in that brief moment of malice, the sergeant ensured that Casey Baines would retire prematurely from the forces, with a wired jawbone that never set quite right and gave him a curious click in his speech as a constant reminder to leave some recruits alone.
For Skald and his ilk, war was an end in itself. It was what they excelled at, and they knew their terrible talents would be neither needed nor appreciated in peace-time.
"You have a choice. You may oblige me, in which case I will speedily complete my business and just as speedily depart from your jurisdiction. Or you may seek to delay me, in which case I will have you charged with whatever offence I can manufacture at short notice and you will be incarcerated, pending enquiry, in this very cell and among its present occupants. They will, no doubt, take cognisance of the fact that, while they were involved in bloody conflict for a country that now arraigns them, you were tending paper cuts with a styptic pencil in an air-conditioned office."
A Mauser, Skald noticed with a hint of admiration, a stopping piece that would have vaporised his liver and decorated the cell wall with most of the left side of his body.
"However inflated barrack-gossip tends to be, in my case anything you have heard is probably true."
Sometimes they garrotted the extended family, one by one, until the subject divulged names and locations; they were always careful to leave witnesses alive, to carry and expand the nightmare.
The pattern was to have no pattern – to strike and disappear, to blast a bloody swathe of destruction from A through B to C and reappear at Z to crucify a subject in an Armani suit to the cedarwood doors of his expensive villa.
For a moment he strained against the tape that sealed him to the chair, his head whipping from side to side, fanning the floor with blood. He was as unaware of the blood as he was of the glistening, shapeless bags that had been his hands, or of the smell of the urine he was sitting in.
"I knew she was gone. I sat down beside her, holding her hand and I say, 'I love you, Norma'. Never said that all the years we were married."
"If you took your head out of your arse for one half-hour, James, you might actually see something."
They had been honed for the kind of missions that would never be acknowledged should they succeed, and would be most emphatically denied should they fail.
"My nephew was something I would wipe off my shoe."
"Despite the fact that you are a younger man, you know that I am quite capable of dislocating each of your limbs and leaving you pissing blood on your kitchen floor, and I doubt very much if your little nurse will come running to your assistance, now or ever again."
"For evil to thrive, it is enough that good man do nothing."
The man shook his head, as if slapped, and came back for more. "But what will I... what will we do now?" - "Mr O'Toole, I think you mistake me for someone who gives a fuck."
"He was doing what I couldn't do, and I paid him back with envy."
"He's also the guy ultimately responsible for planting a Special Forces unit in unmarked graves."
"So we're going to read him his rights?" - "No, not exactly. You know the ancient Romans gave a failed general a choice. He could go to trial and be shamed before the people..." - "Or?" - "Or he could sit in a warm bath and slit his wrists."