Neil first appears as the bodyguard of Dr. Lee, the leader of the Jinx. But it becomes obvious, especially starting in the chapter The Burning, that he’s much more than that. When there’s an emergency, he automatically takes command, coordinating and ordering his “troops,” as he does here, but it’s Dr. Lee who ultimately decides what they are going to do, though she doesn’t issue orders or raise her voice, as he does here.

But Neil sometimes has his own agenda, as he does here, when he indicates to Pete that he wants to set up a situation where starling will kill a murderer for him, because he is not allowed to take private vengeance. And he is honest enough to admit that it’s not because the victim mattered to him, it’s because his pride was hurt that the murderer was able to succeed despite his plan to protect the victim.

It is pretty clear in the novel U-town that Neil and starling had some sort of history (this is much clearer and more detailed in the new novel, of course). The first hint is when he calls her “Kat” (the first time we see anybody call her by her name other than Pete), and it’s clearer in the scene I link to above, when Neil gives Pete some very good advice.

Neil is very tough, and he sees a lot of things in terms of strength and weakness, but he obviously does care about people, as we can see in the passage I mention above. And it is significant, too, that he made a different choice than Dr. Lee in the Return to U-town chapter. However, his disdain for human weakness will be called out very soon, and very forcefully, since U-town is not based on the same ideas as the Jinx.

In the new novel, we see Neil functioning without Dr. Lee, and he has somewhat fallen into a similar role in his new situation, letting others figure out what should be done, and then seeing his responsibility as figuring out how. But U-town is not the Jinx, and they don’t have any use for that sort of military discipline.

Neil does not appear in A Sane Woman. In U-town, he is first mentioned in A World So Alive, and then he is first seen in Prove It (Just the Facts). In the new novel, he is first seen in the Return to U-town chapter.

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