On an isolated farm in southern Ireland, a decades-old grave houses the dismembered bones of 11 women. Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire of the Irish Gardai is used to bloodshed, but these white bones speak of unimaginable butchery.
Not far away, a young American tourist is at the mercy of a sadistic killer. His tools are a boning knife, twine, and a doll fashioned from rags, nails, and fish-hooks. The murder of his victims is secondary only to his pleasure at their pain.
As more and more victims are ritualistically murdered, Katie Maguire finds that she must solve an ancient Irish mystery to catch a terrifying present-day killer.
©2013 Graham Masterton (P)2013 AudioGO Ltd
Graham Masterton is a really masterful storyteller, and the twists come fast and furious. A few choices are more over-the-top than I like in my mysteries (prefer them slightly more real,) but I can't imagine he'd ever be a wasted listen. Love his ability to set up Cork as a place in time, and to draw a series of interesting characters.
Katie is a great character. She makes unique moral choices - more interesting than a lot of authors would allow- and her morality is very particular to her as a character. I like her doggedness. Masterton isn't afraid to let her screw up, either, which makes her all the more real. The ultimate villain of this piece is interesting too. Not entirely unexpected when revealed, but still worth it.
The narrator's voice is dramatic but also soothing with its Irish lilt. It's honeyed and unique. HOWEVER, I really feel that she hams it up awfully with the American characters. Their accents are SO BAD that it unfortunately ruins some really important scenes. Seriously. A suggestion of an accent often works better than when narrators try to fully do an accent (this must happen to British listeners all the time, but my ear is tuned to North American. Sorry, British listeners! Wow!) The end of the second book implies that there are more American characters to come so I hope this is fixed.
Masterton shows his roots as a horror author - BOY is there some gore in here. Just a warning. I'm not squeamish by most measures, but something about listening to the torturous scenes in here was pretty difficult... He also likes supernatural subjects a lot.
Some lesbian stuff in both books so far has been kinda gratuitous from where I sit - much more a male fantasy than a true female experience. Not enough to wreck anything, just a little silly.
I listened to the second Katie Maguire book first. If you think you might listen to it, you might want to do this one first. It doesn't matter much in a lot of series, but there is some serious story arcing from book-to-book here, and the journey of this one was a little spoiled by listening out of order.
"Good story but some graphic torture scenes"
The story and main characters are good but interspersed with chapters of torture that are graphic and gruesome. I'm about a quarter through and wondering whether I can finish it.
I sincerely hope not.
I'm appalled by the method and description of torture which is in contrast to an otherwise good story. I think the different aspects of the book would appeal to different audiences. Unfortunately one audience would be serial killers .......
"An Uncomfortable Story Brilliantly Read"
The pacing of the story was good but the excessive, Repetitive gore made for an uncomfortable read. Once the picture was painted of the fate of the girls the author could profitably have left things to our memory. Gore for gores sake does not make for a good book. Unless you like large amounts of detailed violence, give this a miss.
The most disappointing was his over-reliance on detailed description of torture. Suspense and atmosphere can be built up quite effectively without going into intimate detail, especially when an element of repetition of scenes creeps in. As it is it created a one-dimensional story of horror and depravity when the author has more tools in his armoury, which he could deploy.
Katie was a sound character around whom other books can be centred. However, she would lose credibility if every book presented her with sick repetitive violence. One hopes that the author has it within him. Otherwise - see the last section.
Be very careful about reading, or listening to, anything by this author.
The only reason why I stayed with this book was the reading by Caroline Lennon. If it had been read badly, I would have given up upon it. Ms Lennon's skill lay in her ability to create her own tension by avoiding histrionics. Diction was good, pacing was excellent and she created tension by, at times, an almost matter of fact reading, detached might be better, which allowed the story to unfold naturally. I don't mean to suggest that it was flat and uninvolved, anything but. The real skill lies in creating tension, holding the listeners attention, in a seemingly effortless, understated, way. That takes real talent.
A brilliant reading.
"Story good but....."
This was a good, unusual story, if not very graphic in the torture scenes, but tried too hard to be Irish. Coming from the 'Fair Isle' myself I thought the author overdid the Irish elements, which got a bit annoying in the end.
The story was gripping..... just a bit disappointing.
"Quite gory and only alright as a read"
Many here have criticised the narrator's rendition of this. I have to say that it's not the greatest, nor is it the worst. I find her voice very hard and agressive during the narration - and I can't work out why it should be. Her accents leave a good bit to be desired if one wanted authentic "Cork" accents but then again, how realistic is that?
So, what annoyed me more in this book (presuming you've no problems with gore) is the actual story. I find pretty unlikely that a lad who grew up in rural Ireland wouldn't know what Hurling is. After all he's come back to take over the family farm which his mother still lives on - so we're presuming he didn't go to the States as a two year-old. As for labradors whacking radiators with their tails like a Bodhran drum - pleeeaaaaase Angela Landsbury come back, all is forgiven - yep, it gives me that same cheesy pseudo Irish feeling! Those are just two examples that struck me early on. I then stopped trying to note them lest I give up on the book.
On the whole there's just something missing here. There's gore which isn't really necessary, the book doesn't even give me chills in the way some which don't have any obvious gore do, but mainly, the story is shallow and the characters hard to warm to because they're just not deep enough... everyone is somehow brushed over and lacking in authenticity. I also find quite strange the author feels necessary to mention the Detective Garda's gun so many times (unless it's going to play a role later?) as, although some Detective Garda do carry weapons, Ireland is not exactly New York.
It's not a bad book, but it's not that great either. (This was written when half way through and yes, I'm interested enough to keep going but probably wouldn't seek out this author again).
"Appalling "accents" - I can't continue listening."
I definitely won't listen to Caroline Lennon again. The jury is out on Graham Masterson.
I don't know.
With a different narrator. Or if she had at least managed to put on a Cork accent.
The performance has put me off so much I cannot listen long enough to say. I got as far as chapter 10. I gave one star in each category as I could not progress any further without doing so. The performance doesn't even deserve one star.
It's hard to categorise this as it falls into quite a few genres. Although there are supernatural elements to it, they actually feel real, if you know what I mean? If you believe in mythical tales, then you will find yourself justified, is what I'm probably getting at.
A son returns to his Irish home-farm to become the tenant when his dad dies. He's only just started work when he unearths eleven skeletons. The police are torn between possible troubles deaths or local folklore.
Quite gruesome in bits and for me an out loud, "Oh no!" moment two-thirds of the way through! Enjoy.
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