“Fiendishly clever . . . and a big fat twist is lobbed into the ending like a hand grenade.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
An elderly woman is found murdered in a Dublin park. Tom Reynolds and his team head over to Limerick and an isolated convent where the finger of suspician is pointing. The murdered woman was universally hated; but was it one of her colleagues who murdered her, or does the crime involve revenge dating back 35 years?
I really enjoyed the lead detective, Tom Reynolds, he is a likeable man and in a genre that is packed with troubled detectives battling their inner demons, Tom is a refreshing change. He reminded me of his namesake in Midsomer Murders, happily married with one daughter and with normal everyday family worries.
Tom worked well with his team and there was a good mix of humour and gravitas. All the characters were well-developed and their relationships with each other felt natural. I am looking forward to meeting them again in future books and watching them grow.
At the heart of the story is the Magdalene Laundries, which were rife in Ireland in quite recent times, and Jo Spain does a quite brilliant job of exposing the sheer cruelty of the people that ran these institutions and the devastating effects that they had on the young women that were sent there. But she does this in a fair and balanced way; acknowledging that there were some nuns who did not agree with what was going on and tried their best to protect the girls. But the overwhelming power that those in charge wielded meant most of their efforts were futile.
The setting of the book in a convent in rural Ireland is extremely atmospheric and gives an Agatha Christie style closed room mystery. I have to say that I did guess the culprit quite early on but this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book at all. After all you can never be sure you’re right and this book is much more than the sum of its parts.
The narrative drive was excellent, the plot racing along feverishly, taking twists and turns aplenty. This really is a cracking good new detective series with a lot of depth and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.
Added 6th August 2016