I bring you the review of book 5 in a series that is one of the few I love and follow.
The Trafficking Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 5) by Brian O’Hare
Lin Hui and Cheung Mingzhu win scholarships to study at Queen’s University in Belfast. Alina Balauru departs a poor farm in Romania for well paid work in Northern Ireland. Three lives harbouring long-cherished dreams. Three lives headed for tragedy.
Sheehan and his Serious Crimes Unit discover the body of one of the young women in the garden of an upmarket residence. Confronted with violent Chinese racketeers, brutal human-traffickers and a fiendishly clever killer called The Shadow, they are baffled by a case that seems to lead in two entirely different directions.
Can they find out who The Shadow is in time to save the other two victims?
“Thought-provoking, emotional and gut-wrenching. An exceptional crime-thriller and a must-read for any thriller lover.”
[Eric Praschan, Author of Blind Evil and The Burden of Silence]
“This is mystery writing of the highest quality by an author who deserves very wide recognition.” [Grady Harp, Hall of Fame Top 100 Reviewer]
“I am a fan of detective novels and this book reminds me pretty much of Stephen King’s or Jeffrey Deaver’s works.”
[Phg. Ngx., Online Book Club]
“I have no doubt Brian O’Hare will be the next big name in mystery novels.”
[Sarah Pingley. Amazon Reviewer]
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 and does a lot of voluntary work. Any writing he has previously done was academic…very much restricted to a 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 a biography of a man who daily performs amazing miracles of healing…The Miracle Ship. That is currently available in Amazon’s Kindle bookstore.
Brian had a liver disease since childhood which resulted in his 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).
Following that, 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 Inspector Sheehan Mysteries is a series of full-length detective novels set in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Four books in the series have been written so far and have been very well received. The Doom Murders, The 11.05 Murders, The Coven Murders, and The Dark Web Murders. All of these books have been published in ebook format by Crimson Cloak Publishing (who use several distributors including Amazon, Ingram Sparks, Kobo, Barnes& Noble, etc). Paperback and hardback versions are also available, distributed by Ingram Sparks.
All four books in the series have won awards. As well as the New Apple Award, The Doom Murders has also won the Bronze medal for Mystery Fiction from Readers Favourite and an IDB award in 2014. Fallen Men has also won an Amazon IDB award in 2013 and was awarded the Top Medallist Honours in the Contemporary Fiction Category of The New Apple 2015 Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing. The 11.05 Murders, too, has won the New Apple Award in 2016 and a Readers Favourite Award. The Coven Murders has won the Top Medalist in New Apple Awards as also has The Dark Web Murders.
A fifth volume, The Trafficking Murders, is with a Crimson Cloak Publishing editor and should be ready for publication during the latter half of 2020.
To launch the print version of The Doom Murders, CCP asked Brian to write some 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 three shorts, Murder at Loftus House, Murder at the Roadside Cafe, and Murder at The Woodlands Care Home are now available on Amazon in Kindle and print versions.
I received an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.
I am not a big reader of series. Sometimes they seem to keep going for the sake of it, without contributing anything new or building up on any aspect of the story. Others, they become too repetitive, or they don’t manage to engage me because I don’t feel sufficiently invested in the characters and their lives. So no, I’m not a big reader of series, and lately, I’m not a big watcher of TV series either, for the very same reasons. But there are a few authors who have made me change my mind, at least when it comes to their stories, and Brian O’Hare is one of them. This is the fifth novel in the Inspector Sheehan Mysteries series, and here I am again, having read all the rest, although I only caught up on the first one recently. (You can read my review for The Doom Murders here). And, in case you’re in a hurry, yes, it’s a great read, and yes, I hope to be telling you about book 6 when it comes out.
I won’t spoil the story by going into a lot of detail about the plot. Suffice to say that the team ends up investigating/involved in two cases (one out of the personal interest of one of the members of the team rather than through the usual channels), seemingly totally unrelated, that bring them into contact with Queen’s University and their international students’ department, some pretty colourful characters from the Chinese community in Belfast, and the dark and twisted world of modern-day slavery. There are many suspects; there are murders; there are red herrings; we get the usual banter between the members of the team and their collaborators (I love those interactions in particular), and we also get an opportunity to see what the members of the team have been up to and to follow their train of thought (that often might be as wrong-footed as ours).
I have talked before about one of the aspects that make this one of my favourite police procedural series. It manages to combine a great plot in an interesting setting (Belfast merges the big city vibes with the peculiarities of Northern Ireland. The author includes a list of terminology related to the local police force to make sure readers not familiar with it can follow the story without difficulty, as well as a cast of members of the team) with a set of characters that come off the page as a real team, with their individual strengths and weaknesses, and their contrasting personalities, but who work well together, are true professionals, and above all, they are honest and feel deeply for their jobs and the people they serve. And they would do anything to help the other members of the team. In a fictional world full of corrupt police officers, detectives, and even whole departments, it is refreshing.
We also have new characters, both good, and bad, criminals and also victims, and this not only builds up the intrigue but also allows us an insight into experiences that most of us will be lucky to never have suffered in our own skins. Although it is a work of fiction, it provides us with a powerful reminder of what everyday life is like for some people, even today.
Despite the seriousness of the crimes and the horrific nature of the illegal business behind it (thinking of human trafficking as a business is revolting but, unfortunately, the evidence indicates that there are people who see it that way), there is a lightness of touch and there are some amusing and tongue-in-cheek moments that give readers a break from the heartache and allow us time to regroup and keep pondering the clues and thinking of solutions to the riddle. It made me think of Italian crime series such as Inspector Montalbano or The Bastards of Pizzofalcone where you can’t help reading (and watching), not only because of the case to be solved but also because of the characters and the way the story is told. The crimes are intriguing, puzzling, and complex enough to make mystery readers eager to follow the clues (although I must confess I was no match for Sheehan’s deductive and intuitive powers this time) and try not to be fooled by the red herrings, but, in my case, it has come to a point when I am happy to be fooled if that gives me another opportunity to catch up with Inspector Sheehan and his team.
The writing is fluid; this is a page-turner although the pace is not frantic and it doesn’t rely solely on action pieces to move the story along, but don’t be fooled, you’ll need to keep your wits about you and try hard not to miss anything. The story can be read independently, although I know from personal experience that readers who’ve been following the series will enjoy the intricacies of the relationships between the members of the team and their banter much more, so I recommend reading it in full (and the author is happy to send a free copy of the first novel to those who might catch up at a later point in the series); there is a degree of telling, as is to be expected in these kinds of books (one of the members of the team talks about Sheehan’s ‘Poirot moment’ and he is absolutely right), and we are kept in the dark sometimes. Although much of the violence is kept off the page, the story is narrated in the third person from the perspective of different characters (not only Sheehan or members of his team), and that includes some of the victims, in this case, victims of human trafficking, so this is not for readers who prefer a light read, as it does deal in a very nasty reality.
As you’ve probably guessed, I strongly recommend this book to readers of fictional crime novels, especially police procedurals and also mysteries in general. The setting and the subject are an added attraction, and anybody interested in these genres (rather than a cozy and gentle mystery) should try this series. Now. Don’t wait. You can thank me later.
Not many things are reliable these days, but Brian O’Hare’s novels don’t disappoint.
Thanks to the author for his book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keeps safe and smiling (even behind the safety mask)!