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Publisher's Summary

DI Owen Sheen vowed to his father never to return to Ireland. But years have passed, and Sheen needs answers to the questions he has surrounding his brother’s death.

He is on loan from the Met under the belief he will be helping set up a new Historical Offences Team. On arrival to Ireland, plans change, and he finds himself partnered with newly promoted DC Aoife McCusker to work on her first appointed murder investigation. 

John Fryer, an IRA veteran, has recently escaped from a mental asylum. Sheen thinks Fryer was involved in the killing of his brother and is now after him. But will Sheen be able to put his personal agenda aside?

©2017 Gary Donnelly (P)2018 Isis Publishing Ltd

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unexpectedly Great !!! New Irish Mystery Writer

I read technical science fiction (i.e. not fantasy), police procedurals (especially United Kingdom) and historical biographies. A friend told me I "had to" read this new book by freshman author Gary Donnelly -- I would just love it. But when I asked for details, I was less than enthusiastic--because when looking into Irish mysteries try to screen out IRA/The Troubles books and anything to do with the Catholic "laundries" (missing kids where the mystery leads back to abuses in the churches between 1940 and 1980.) Just Too Many. So when I found out it had a large sub-plot surrounding the IRA v. Loyalists (past and present) I sighed. But my friend was relentless. Even through the first two chapters I remained skeptical. But this book is mostly set in the present and turned out to be really good. The plot is intricate but not oblique, there is Irish darkness but not despair, and I really liked the two main characters -- despite the fact that they both (male and female) have their flaws. I would suggest this to you, and I hope there are more from Mr. Donnelly !

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Mystery, action, intrigue, and surprise twists and

Mystery, action, intrigue, mixed with surprise twists and turns. This book is a page turner flavoured by insights into the generational animosity in Ireland between the Catholics and Protestants which I think they refer to as - the troubles. May be the start of a new series to follow, as long as it's not always about the IRA and their counterparts.

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  • anna
  • 10-13-18

Thrilling new crime series will be born

I have now seen that this is going to be the first in a series - which is a) good news because I loved Blood will be Born, but b) perhaps answers my only criticism.... DI Sheen is told something near the end of the book and I wanted him to follow this up but he didn't. (I hope that McCusker continues as a character - i thought she was as interesting as Sheen).

Have to highlight the performance by Stephen Armstrong - it's hard to listen to one person for many hours and remain convinced by all the characters but this was done brilliantly.

The book is very much about Belfast and it fleshed out the characters, politics and interwoven yet separate worlds that most of us only know from TV headlines. The city and particularly the vulnerability of the new(ish) 'peace' provided the foundation for the plot which was integrated skillfully rather than just plonked onto the setting.

I enjoyed the 'now you see it now you don't' depiction of power - how much are security services manipulating things and why? who owns or owes who? who can you trust?

It's a thriller and it is set in Northern Ireland - there is going to be violence. Donnelly keeps (just..) to the right side of over-gruesome or gratuitous.

The ghost of the collective history and individuals' traumatic pasts run through the book - we start will a traipse through a remote bog and it is all too easy to believe in the Moley haunting Fryer. I wasn't totally convinced by what happened re: the Moley (don't want to give anything away) and in some ways the fast paced escalation of the crime drama towards the end mean we lose sight, a little, of the internal narratives of the two seriously unwell characters. We see what they do but I felt I'd lost touch a little with why they thought they were doing it. (Writing this feels like nit-picking - which just shows how good it was overall.)

I'm really looking forward to another one coming out. In the meantime, quite a few people might get this for Christmas.