The best books about Northern Ireland since the end of the Troubles

Jason Johnson Author Of Did She See You?
By Jason Johnson

Who am I?

I grew up in this place, born here when the Troubles began. In one form or another, the conflict was everywhere. It was built into the infrastructure, into attitudes. It infested conversations, hurt friendships, killed old folks, children, friends, and family. Fiction from and about Northern Ireland was inevitably hamstrung by that dominant, terrible story. Since the 1994 ceasefires, our fiction has come charging forward. It’s analytical, bullish, enlightening, funny as hell, and it moves us forward by taking honest stock of what came before. I love this emerging place and its new voices. And I love to read and write stories about it. It’s a stubborn home, often maddening, truly kind, forever breath-taking.


I wrote...

Did She See You?

By Jason Johnson,

Book cover of Did She See You?

What is my book about?

Miriam says her brain is intercepting random social media messages. Then she shoots her mother dead. Declared insane, the Belfast teenager gets locked in a psych ward. All she does there, all day, is murmur what she insists are the live, online exchanges running through her brain. Denis, Miriam’s migrant stepfather, was the only witness to the killing. He’s trying to develop his life coaching business yet can’t stop thinking about the murder. He is desperate to know if, in her last moment, his wife knew Miriam was about to kill her. During visits, he tries over and over to break through her noise with one question – Did She See You? And then another murder, but this one could not have been Miriam. 

The books I picked & why

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Divorcing Jack

By Colin Bateman,

Book cover of Divorcing Jack

Why this book?

I was twenty-five and enraged at the self-pity and posturing dominating the Irish peace process. I was dying to write yet terrified of even attempting to say anything in print. And then, like a rogue rocket, Divorcing Jack arrived. A hilarious assault on Northern Irish sacred cows right at the bitter end of the bloody Troubles. A timely, wisecracking strike back at a place where being a self-important Muppet had become a job description. So… Dan Starkey, suspected of murdering a lover, stumbles through local fiefdoms to solve the crime himself. He was in places I knew, bars I drank in, saying things that needed to be said. Divorcing Jack started a train of thought that still runs in my mind, one that insists rules are for rulers, not writers. 

Divorcing Jack

By Colin Bateman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Divorcing Jack as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fast, funny, scary. A truly up-to-the-minute novel set in Belfast from a brilliant new writer. Now a major BBC/Scala film starring David Thewlis and Robert Lindsay. Dan Starkey is a young journalist in Belfast, who shares with his wife, Patricia, a prodigious appetite for drinking and dancing. Then Dan meets Margaret, a beautiful and apparently impoverished student, and things begin to get out of hand. And then, terrifyingly, Margaret is murdered. Is it because of her liaison with Dan? Is it because she was not exactly who she claimed to be? Is it the IRA? A Protestant extremist group? A…


Murder Memoir Murder

By Anthony J. Quinn,

Book cover of Murder Memoir Murder

Why this book?

A masked IRA gunman presses a bullet into a small hand. He warns the boy he’ll put the same bullet into his father if instructions are disobeyed. It’s a pointed detail because it happened. The author was that boy. This story glides between fiction and nonfiction in search of truths about two rural murders and a vanished informer. But, as we have been learning here, dissecting darkness reveals only darkness. At heart this is a tale of a family’s composure, of a faithful bond to land, of being at odds with truths and lies. And that omnipresent terrain, with its moving shadows and thorny wilds, played witness to it all. This story takes place near where I grew up. It has stayed with me longer than I’m used to.

Murder Memoir Murder

By Anthony J. Quinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder Memoir Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"The result is a breathtakingly brutal piece of crime writing that is relentless in its pursuit of the truth"
Declan Burke in the Irish Times

"Among many other things, Murder Memoir Murder is a brilliant evocation of Ireland's border culture, its contentions and unwritten protocols" Garrett Carr, author of The Rule of the Land

"Hugely evocative, deeply felt and beautifully written, Murder Memoir Murder is a brave, brutal exploration of our shared past, his family’s own personal history and the act of storytelling itself." Brian McGilloway

Murder Memoir Murder is both a memoir and a crime fiction story involving a…


Eureka Street: A Novel of Ireland Like No Other

By Robert McLiam Wilson,

Book cover of Eureka Street: A Novel of Ireland Like No Other

Why this book?

Absurd, funny, ingenious, sad, and violent, this book is an ode to Belfast. The first line – and I’m big into first lines – runs: “All stories are love stories.” Are they? Are they not? I still don’t know. Yet that’s the nature of the characters here, the nature of this cynical society too, back in 1994 as the ceasefire trembled into life and everyone was confused by the silence. So, ceasefire time, an obese Protestant waster cashes in by selling ‘ethnic accessories,’ including walking sticks for leprechauns. And his erudite, tough Catholic mate prowls Belfast while getting hassled and thinking deeply about getting laid. Self-appointed ‘revolutionaries’ get torn a new one here, and rightly so. All of Wilson’s books are blunt among the beautiful. Sadly there’s all too few of them.

Eureka Street: A Novel of Ireland Like No Other

By Robert McLiam Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eureka Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When your street address can either save your life or send it up the creek, there’s no telling what kind of daily challenges you’ll face in the era of the Northern Irish Troubles.

“All stories are love stories,” begins Eureka Street, Robert McLiam Wilson’s big-hearted and achingly funny novel. Set in Belfast during the Troubles, Eureka Street takes us into the lives and families of Chuckie Lurgan and Jake Jackson, a Protestant and a Catholic—unlikely pals and staunch allies in an uneasy time. When a new work of graffiti begins to show up throughout the city—“OTG”—the locals are stumped. The…


The Midnight Killing

By Sharon Dempsey,

Book cover of The Midnight Killing

Why this book?

A man found hanging sparks suspicion so, just to check all is okay, the cops hang him again. Well, not him. A stand-in. But it’s a fine little detail that sums up this shrewd book – cold, hard, well-researched, loaded with bold ideas. This is Northern Ireland crime fiction as it should be, the procedural narrative we once struggled to host. Policing took place when cops were pretty much soldiers. Nowadays it’s different. And Dempsey’s crime fiction is second to none. The aftermath of the Troubles – and its socio-political complexity – is sewn in here, used to both enhance tension and amplify relationships. So, a forensic shrink and a cop explore the creepy case of a missing girl after the aforementioned hanging. Get your seat belt on – this thing twists.

The Midnight Killing

By Sharon Dempsey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Midnight Killing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She'd cycled this way hundreds of times before, every twist and turn familiar. She didn't know this would be the last.

When the body of architect James McCallum is found hanging in the grounds of his former school one cold night, DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey suspect foul play behind his apparent suicide.

To their astonishment, the trail leads to a 20-year-old cold case of a missing girl, and a teenage party. But what was James' fascination with the case and how is it linked to his death?

Secrets don't stay buried forever - but the real…


The Bones of It

By Kelly Creighton,

Book cover of The Bones of It

Why this book?

How to address the bloody past is constantly debated in Northern Ireland. The lawyers can’t get it right, nor the politicians or police. Yet this writer does. The book strips everything away and leaves, well, the bones. It’s a father-and-son story. The former, an ex-paramilitary, takes in the troubled latter. The prison veteran father has been trying to be better. The lovesick son is trying to be normal. Both remain curiously opaque, their stories not quite gelling. These are precision-hewn Troubles characters, murderer and son, never as disappointed in each other as they are with themselves. Theirs is a small house filled with history and filling up with paranoia and mistrust. And we learn it all via a prison diary. A mighty debut novel.

The Bones of It

By Kelly Creighton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bones of It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thrown out of university, green-tea-drinking, meditation-loving Scott McAuley has no place to go but home: County Down, Northern Ireland. The only problem is, his father is there now too.

Duke wasn't around when Scott was growing up. He was in prison for stabbing two Catholic kids in an alley. But thanks to the Good Friday Agreement, big Duke is out now, reformed, a counselor.

Squeezed together into a small house, with too little work and too much time to think about what happened to Scott's dead mother, the tension grows between these two men, who seem to have so little…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in The Troubles, Belfast, and police procedurals?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about The Troubles, Belfast, and police procedurals.

The Troubles Explore 8 books about The Troubles
Belfast Explore 9 books about Belfast
Police Procedurals Explore 38 books about police procedurals

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Anatomy of a Killing, The Bulkies, and The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne if you like this list.