Book Review: Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville


Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville
Vintage Digital (ebook), 2015
369 Pages

Author Website

Amazon (UK)

I got a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


‘They’d used the same picture in the Sunday red top she’d read at the weekend. SCHOOLBOY KILLER TO BE RELEASED, the headline had screamed above a half-page story.’

DCI Serena Flanagan, newly returned to work after undergoing treatment for cancer, is forced to confront a troubling case from her past: the murder conviction of a 12-year-old-boy who has just been released back into the community.

When 12-year-old Ciaran Devine confessed to murdering his foster father it sent shock waves through the nation.

DCI Serena Flanagan, then an ambitious Detective Sergeant, took Ciaran’s confession after days spent earning his trust. He hasn’t forgotten the kindness she showed him – in fact, she hasn’t left his thoughts in the seven years he’s been locked away.

Probation officer Paula Cunningham, now tasked with helping Ciaran re-enter society, suspects there was more to this case than the police uncovered. Ciaran’s confession saved his brother Thomas from a far lengthier sentence, and Cunningham can see the unnatural hold Thomas still has over his vulnerable younger brother.

When she brings her fears to DCI Flanagan, the years of lies begin to unravel, setting a deadly chain of events in motion.


THE PILLOW IS COOL on Ciaran’s cheek, damp from sweat. Sunlight makes a glowing rectangle on the wall. It lingers flickery green behind his eyelids when he blinks.


This is my first time reading Neville.

Those We Left Behind is brilliant – fast paced, intense and packed with tension – just the sort of thriller I love. I thought the characters were excellent. Thomas and Ciaran were wonderfully flawed and pitiable despite their actions. They never became inhuman villains and I shed tears for them at the end of the novel, for such wasted lives. I was gripped from page one and all the way to the end. I enjoyed reading from different perspectives and how all the plot threads came together in the end. I had a great time with this book.

I’d highly recommend Those We Left Behind and plan to read more by this author.




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