Galya Petrova travels to Ireland on a promise that she will work for a nice Russian family, teaching their children English. Instead, she is dragged into the world of modern slavery, sold to a Belfast brothel, and held there against her will.
She escapes at a terrible cost—the slaying of one of her captors—and takes refuge with a man who offers his help. As the traffickers she fled scour the city for her, seeking revenge for their fallen comrade, Galya faces an even greater danger: her savior is not what he seems. She is not the first trafficked girl to have crossed his threshold, and she must fight to avoid their fate.
Detective Inspector Jack Lennon wants a quiet Christmas with his daughter, but when an apparent turf war between rival gangs leaves bodies across the city, he knows he won’t get it. As he digs deeper into the case, he realizes an escaped prostitute is the cause of the violence, and soon he is locked in a deadly race with two very different killers.
From the Hardcover edition.
About Stolen Souls
Detective Inspector Jack Lennon of the Belfast Police has watched the developing cooperation between Northern Ireland’s Loyalist gangs and immigrant Lithuanian criminals with unease. The Lithuanians traffic women from Eastern Europe and Asia for the Loyalists’ brothels, and they’re all making big money in spite of the recession that has stopped Northern Ireland’s peace boom in its tracks. Lennon has a more intimate knowledge of the city’s brothels than he’ll ever admit, but the surge in trafficked girls makes him question his lifestyle, especially considering he has his daughter, Ellen, to care for now.
When a Lithuanian trafficker turns up dead on Christmas Eve with a shard of glass embedded in his throat, Lennon’s plans to spend the holiday with Ellen are put in jeopardy. The dead man was the younger brother of a ruthless Lithuanian crime boss, Arturas Strazdas, and the young Ukrainian woman who killed him has escaped her captors. Now Strazdas holds the Loyalists responsible and won’t let up until everyone involved has paid. A bloody gang war erupts across the city.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Belfast, Galya, the Ukrainian girl, is running for her life, alone and scared, clinging to the darkest corners as the frozen streets empty for the holiday. Galya’s captors told her how the police deal with illegal immigrants, that she is a criminal in a foreign land, and the law will not help her. And now she is also a murderer. She cannot be discovered by anyone, not the cops, not the gang who held her prisoner. There is only one person she can go to: a man she met on her first day as a prostitute, a friend who gave her a crucifix and an address to run to if she ever got away. He’d saved four prostitutes before her, he’s told her, and she can be his fifth. But when Galya arrives at the address, she finds something more evil than she had ever imagined.
“Stolen Souls is a nightmare story in the most noir place on earth, told by an exceptional talent. Crime fiction doesn’t get much better than that.” —Lee Child
“Top-notch Irish crime fiction … one senses a diamond-hard stillness at the heart of Neville’s prose, despite the hurtling plot. This leaves us poised between savoring the beauty of his words and reading madly to get to the end.” —Los Angeles Times
“Gripping, compassionate and packed with wonderfully realised characters, this is a book that will stay with you long after you finish it. Just three books in and Stuart Neville is already a crime-writing star.” —Mark Billingham, author of Lazybones
“Stolen Souls is another winner from a man who’s rapidly establishing himself as a top-notch thriller writer. Great stuff.” —Simon Kernick
“You read Stolen Souls wincing, in thrall to Neville’s brilliance but wishing you weren’t.” —Guardian
“A no-frills thriller that barrels along at a ferocious pace…. Belfast looms large as a character in itself, its warren of streets simultaneously offering threat and the hope of salvation in a novel that explores not only the dark heart of the Irish sex trade but also the twisted motivations of the men who so brutally exploit women.” —Irish Times
“If you by chance have never read Stuart Neville’s Belfast Trilogy, it’s time to redeem yourself.” —Grift Magazine
“Neville excels at conjuring up memorable details…. A gripping excursion into the nightside of humanity, but it is not without its richness and insights. It burrows into your brain like the best dark fairy tales.” —Mystery Scene