Today I bring you a review for a book by an author I discovered a while back and I hope to keep reading in the future, Brian O’Hare.
The Coven Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 3) by Brian O’Hare
The Coven Murders opens with a horrifying account of a ritual Black Mass with a human sacrifice in an abandoned church. Twenty-one years later, near an old ruined church in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Chief Inspector Sheehan and his team discover the skeleton of a young woman. But what seems initially to be a straightforward case, brings the team into conflict with a powerful Satanist who has plans to offer up to Satan another human sacrifice on the evening of the great Illuminati feast of Lughnasa. Several murders occur, baffling the Inspector until he makes a connection between the modern murders and the twenty-one-year-old skeleton. The team’s pursuit of the murderer, and their determination to protect a young woman who is targeted by the coven, lead to a horrific climax in a hellish underground crypt where Sheehan and his team, supported by an exorcist and a bishop, attempt to do battle with the coven and a powerful demon of Baphomet, jeopardising not only their lives but risking the wrath of Satan upon their immortal souls.
An Inspector Sheehan Mystery
by Brian O’Hare
About the author:
Brian O’Hare, MA, Ph.D., is a retired assistant director of a large regional college of further and higher education. Married, three children, ten grandchildren, one great-grandchild. He plays golf three times a week off a ten handicap and does a lot of voluntary work. Any writing he has previously done was academic…very much restricted to a very specific readership. Several articles in educational journals were followed by a number of book-length reports for the Dept. of Education and the University of Ulster.
He has also written an interesting biography of a man who daily performs amazing miracles of healing…The Miracle Ship. That is currently available in Amazon’s Kindle bookstore. Hopefully, those who read it will spread the word and write reviews to help John’s message to reach the hearts of many, many people.
Brian had a liver disease since childhood which resulted in him taking early retirement a number of years ago. In 2002 he had a liver transplant but is strong and healthy now. He continued to do academic writing well into his retirement and followed that with a memoir about his liver transplant, dealing with the physical, emotional and spiritual experiences that came from that period in his life (A Spiritual Odyssey, published by Columba Press, Dublin).
Recently he experienced a desire to write fiction. Hence Fallen Men. It is a story about three priests…but it is religious in much the same way Thornbirds was religious. He has also finished a second book. It’s quite different from Fallen Men… a detective mystery inspired by an old 14th century painting of the Last Judgement. It’s called “The Doom Murders”, and it is available on Kindle and in print. Brian’s publisher’s liked The Doom Murders so much that they commissioned a series. The second book in the series, “The 11.05 Killings”, has now been written. Obviously, it features the same detectives as in The Doom Murders. The book is now going through the editing and formatting process by Crimson Cloak Publishing, a cover is being designed, and the book will be ready for publication early in 2016. The third book in the series, The Coven Murders, is currently being written.
To launch the print version of The Doom Murders, CCP asked Brian to write a couple of short stories, featuring Inspector Sheehan. These were originally intended to be Facebook games (i.e. a kind of ‘see the clues, guess the killer’ thing) but the publisher liked them so much that she has started a new line called Crimson Shorts. Brian’s two shorts ( a third will shortly have to be written to launch The 11.05 Killings) Murder at Loftus House and Murder at the Roadside Cafe are now available on Amazon in Kindle and print versions.
Also now available on Kindle (as well as print) is the story of Brian’s liver transplant and the growth in spirit he experienced as he waited for almost a year, not knowing if he was going to live or die. See: “A Spiritual Odyssey [Diary of an Ordinary Catholic]”
Thanks to the author for providing me an ARC copy of the novel that I review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you want your books reviewed check here) that I freely chose to review.
I read and reviewed a previous novel in this series (The 11:05 Murders. The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 2. You can check the review here) some time back and really enjoyed the cast of characters (it was refreshing to see a team of the police working together and not full of corrupt individuals for whom solving a mystery is the last thing in their agendas) and the well-built plot, full of twists and turns.
The author pre-warned me that this was quite a different type of beast and the plot was less standard. If you’ve read the above description you’ll have realised already that is the case. I love horror, but perhaps because I’ve read and watched a lot in the horror genre, it takes a fair bit to scare me. From the genre point of view, although this novel has pretty eerie moments, I did not feel truly scared. It might depend on the readers’ personal beliefs and in how worried they are about Satan and evil powers.
This novel is again written in the third person. Although it is mostly told from Inspector Sheehan’s point of view, some other members of his team get some space as well, and this allows readers to catch up on some their personal developments, and also to get a detailed account of some aspects of the investigation that Sheehan is not directly involved in. I grew very fond of some of the characters in the previous book and I was pleased to see what they’d been up to. Readers who worry about head-hopping don’t need to be concerned in this case, as each individual chapter is solely told from one point of view, and it is clear whose head we are in.
The plot is once more well-constructed and involved, although I did not find it too difficult to spot (or suspect) who the guilty party was, but, in my opinion this novel was a bit different and the emphasis was not on guessing who’d done it. The prologue sets up the story for readers and give us clues that Sheehan’s team are not privy to, and therefore we are at a somewhat unfair advantage. If I had to put it another way, I’d say that ‘the devil is in the detail’ (pun intended). For me, the novel became a process to see how the investigation team would put all the clues together, and also how the different strands and the new and old crimes fitted in. How would an eminently practical team accept what the clues seemed to point at and how would they confront such otherworldly forces?
Once again I think one of the strong points is the team and the interaction between its members (we even get a new member, sort of, and some extra help) and especially the fact that this time the strength of the bond between its members is put to the test in a very extreme way.
I enjoyed the setting of the story in Northern Ireland, the reflections of the text on politic and religious matters there, and I enjoyed meeting two characters who become pivotal to the case and join forces with the depleted team (I understand one of these characters had appeared in book 1 of the series but I have yet to read it).They are stupendous and I hope we’ll meet them again in other books.
The writing is dynamic and flows well, and the intrigue will keep readers turning the pages, although it does not move at neck-breaking pace. There is sufficient detail to allow the readers to easily imagine where things are taking place without slowing the action, and despite the tense moments, there are also plenty of light and humorous interactions that allow us a bit of a break from the tension.
I know that some people do not enjoy books with satanic themes. If that’s the case, you’d better avoid it, although I don’t think one needs to have strong religious beliefs to enjoy the book (I am sure most paranormal readers enjoy the flights of fancy the genre allows without necessarily thinking all the premises are true if any). No matter what one’s position is, the plot requires some suspension of disbelief, and personally, I am not a big fan of blaming the devil for all the ills of the world, but I enjoyed the book and I’m keen on seeing where the next case will take Sheehan and his team.
I recommend it to those who enjoy mysteries, police procedural novels, who are especially interested in a Northern Irish setting, and who are willing to stretch their imagination beyond the usual suspects.
Thanks to the author for his novel, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review and keep smiling!