I received an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
Although this is the fourth book in the Inspector Sheehan Mystery series, this is the third book I’ve read because I caught up on it in the second book, the 11:05 Murders and I have kept reading the new ones (you can check my review of The Coven Murders here, where you will also find a link to my review of the previous book). And I can confirm that I have enjoyed them all. By the way, any readers of this book who enjoy it but haven’t read the first one in the series either, I recommend you keep reading the book until the end, including the extra materials, because the author kindly offers copies of the first book to any readers who request them directly. So there’s no excuse. (And that makes me think… what am I waiting for?)
This fourth instalment in the series has all the elements fans have come to love, and any readers of police procedurals would expect to find. There are weird murders, a clever and truly twisted murderer, bizarre clues and possible motives, plenty of red herrings, twists and turns galore and a fascinating background to the story (the dark web, a pretty unique club, corruption, debauchery, blackmail... even Brexit makes an appearance!). If you love puzzles and crosswords you'll have a slight advantage when trying to solve the case, but you need to keep your wits about you and pay close attention to even the smallest details (although I must confess that I did not guess the murderer this time, and I was derailed by a red herring. In my defence, though, I did uncover one of the major clues faster than the members of the team and even the expert, but then, although I hardly do crosswords these days, I used to be a fan).
It also has the Northern Irish setting that is always an important aspect to the stories in the series, and in this case there are no paranormal aspects, like in the last book, but we have interesting philosophical and moral debates about the nature of justice, retribution, and the risks inherent in taking the law in one’s hands.
One of my favourite aspects of the books in this series is the interaction between the members of the team, who are all unique but work together well, despite moments of tension and misunderstandings. We get to learn more about the characters, we see how even some that seemed very set in their ways have developed and play a bigger role in this novel, and I was pleased to catch up with them. That does not mean this book cannot be read as a stand-alone. In fact, the author has followed readers’ suggestions and has added a list of characters at the beginning of the book, including the members of the team and also those pertaining to the story, and he has also included terminology used by UK police, to make sure that readers not familiar with it have no difficulties following the action, making it even easier to follow. Although there are passing references to events from previous novels, these are not fundamental to the story or the development of the plot, and there is no cliff-hanger at the end either, so don’t hesitate to read the novel if you like the sound of it. My only word of caution would be that you are likely to get hooked onto the series, so, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The book is written in the third person, mostly from Sheehan’s point of view, although also from some of the other members of his team, and we also get a prologue (pay attention) and extremely intriguing blog posts interspersed in the book, which are clearly related to the action, that is narrated in chronological order. There is sufficient background provided to all the topics that come up in the story to ensure readers can enjoy it, but this does not unduly delay the action, and the writing flows well and gathers momentum as it goes along. As I’ve said, it’s impossible to read the book without getting caught up in the intrigue and debating the clues as if you were another member of the team.
This is a strong and solid police procedural, with a fascinating and pretty dark case that will suppose a first-rate challenge for those who love a bit of detecting, and look for an interesting background and characters they can root for. Another gripping book by Brian O’Hare. I am eagerly awaiting the next one.