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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBlogPost THE TRAFFICKING MURDERS (THE INSPECTOR SHEEHAN MYSTERIES BOOK 5) by Brian O’Hare (@brianohare26). Harsh realities, engaging mystery, and beautiful teamwork

Hi all:

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

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]

https://www.amazon.com/Trafficking-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08KL3QMJB/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trafficking-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08KL3QMJB/

https://www.amazon.es/Trafficking-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08KL3QMJB/

Author Brian O'Hare
Author 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 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.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brian-OHare/e/B001K89IWM/

My review:

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)!

 

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog The Doom Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 1) by Brian O’Hare(@brianohare26). A great police procedural novel set in Northern Ireland, to keep the grey cells ticking.

Hi all:

Today I bring you the first book in a series I really enjoy, but for some reason I’d missed this one:

The Doom Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 1) by Brian O'Hare
The Doom Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 1) by Brian O’Hare

The Doom Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 1) by Brian O’Hare

Prominent figures in Belfast are being murdered. The bodies are left naked and posed in grotesquely distorted shapes. No clues are left at the forensically immaculate crime scenes except odd theatrical props and some random numbers and letters concealed at each scene by the killer. How are the victims linked? What is the connection between these killings, the bible, and a famous mediaeval painting of The Last Judgement?

The Doom Murders has been the recipient of three literary awards – The IDB Award in 2014; The New Apple Award, 2014, for Excellence in Independent Publishing; and the 2015 Readers’ Favourite International Book Awards (Bronze Medal Winner).

“The Chief Inspector, Jim Sheehan, is drawn so deftly and with such genuineness, you can feel him breathing.” (Eugene Fournier, novelist and screenwriter, film and TV)

“The most subtle of clues are intricately interwoven into the storyline, and even the most astute mystery buff is apt to miss them.” (Donna Cummins, Author of the Blacklick Valley Mystery Series)

“Incredibly addictive page turner.” (Meghan, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer)

“O’Hare leans toward the human side of his characters, imbuing them with a real world presence that is in turn witty and passionate.” (Roy.T James, for Readers’ Favourite)

https://www.amazon.com/Doom-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0176IW9B6/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Doom-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0176IW9B6/

https://www.amazon.es/Doom-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0176IW9B6/

Author Brian O'Hare
Author 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]”

https://www.amazon.com/Brian-OHare/e/B001K89IWM

My review:

I discovered Brian O’Hare and his Inspector Sheehan series thanks to the second book, 11:05 Murders, and I have been a fan ever since, reviewing the next two books in the series as well, but had not managed to catch up with the first one. As I mentioned in my last review (you can read my review of The Dark Web Murders here), the author is happy to send a copy of the first book in the series to any readers interested, and he was kind enough to send me one as well. And I am very pleased about it.

I’m not surprised by the accolades and the praise bestowed on this novel. Although I’ve come to it after reading the rest of the series, and therefore I was already familiar with the characters and the setting, it has all the elements that will endear it to fans of police procedural novels and thrillers, and a few extra ones for good measure.

The story is narrated in the third person, like the rest of the series, mostly from Inspector Sheehan’s point of view, although there are parts of the novel where we share in the point of view of other characters, including members of the team and others who seem, at first, not to play a direct part in the plot, although we soon learn this is not the case. As I have mentioned when reviewing other novels in the series, the changes in point of view are not confusing or sudden, and the narration style works well because it offers readers plenty of clues, hints, and also a few red herrings that contribute to keeping the brain engaged and readers on their toes.

One of the aspects of the series I’ve always particularly enjoyed is the interaction between the members of the team, and also the teamwork involved in the investigation. Sheehan is, without a doubt, the star of the team, and his intuition/flashes of inspiration always help solve the mystery, although they are, at times, a source of frustration and puzzlement, as is the case here. Apart from a great detective, Sheehan is an inspiring leader of his men, a caring human being with his weaknesses and foibles; he is far from the ladies’ man so favoured by the detective genre, and although he does not shy away from action, he is a thinking man and spends a fair amount of time reflecting, not only upon the cases, but also about social, political, and religious matters. (He is a lapsed Roman Catholic, and the nature of the killings makes him question his own beliefs). The rest of the members of the team are also individuals in their own right, and we get to learn about their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, and some details about their personal lives which are relevant to the story, because, in this case, everybody is a suspect. There are also other characters we meet, some who are regular collaborators of the team, like the medical examiner (one of my favourite characters, who always help bring a touch of lightness and fun to the proceedings), but also some introduced due to their relationship to the case, and all of them add interest to the story and play important roles later on.

The story is set in Northern Ireland, in Belfast, and the book’s setting is very important, not only because of the real locations and because how it affects the functioning of the team (Northern Ireland is part is the UK, and therefore their police force is organised in the same way as that in England), but also because the political and the religious background and tensions play a fundamental part in the plot and in the series as a whole. There are beautiful descriptions of neighbourhoods, buildings, and places, and I felt that the novel manages to give readers a good insight into the nature of both, the place and the people of Northern Ireland. At a historical moment such as this, with the Brexit discussions as one of the main items in the news, and the issue of the Irish Border as one of the stumbling stones, the novel’s background makes it even more compelling.

I’ve mentioned religion, and despite some twists and turns that point towards other possible motives, the murderer seems to be preoccupied with religion and with making a statement about the current state of affairs in the Roman Catholic Church. As I have said, thanks to the omniscient point of view, we are offered information the investigating team does not have, and readers will probably feel they are ahead and have a pretty good idea of what is going on, but the balance between what is revealed and what is not is finely tuned, and it is easy to miss clues or get stuck on one of the many possible suspects and trapped by the red herrings. I cannot discuss the ins and outs of the case or of the ending (yes, I had my suspicions, but mostly because I was at an advantage having read other books in the series, and even with that I was not all that confident and missed a few of the clues), but it fully engaged me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d recommend anybody reading it to pay close attention to it and not to dismiss any information provided. Everything has a reason. I’d also warn readers that although the descriptions of the crimes are not graphic in the extreme, the deaths are violent and there are a number of upsetting elements in the plot, and these are realistically depicted. Readers who prefer their crime novels light should stay away from this book.

The novel flows well and the language is easy to follow, without over-the-top reliance on jargon, and terminology that might not be familiar to the reader is explained within the context of the novel. The novel moves at a good pace, but it does include moments of reflection and commentaries about the case, its ramifications, and also about the general state of affairs that allow readers to think about the events and to catch a breath. Despite the serious subject, there are also moments of fun and banter, and even what seems to be a budding romance. There are some action scenes, but there is also plenty of work following clues and examining the evidence, and that helps readers feel like true investigators and ersatz members of the team, as they eavesdrop in the discussions and come up with their own theories.

This is an excellent police procedural novel, the first in a great series, with engaging characters, in a setting that is as important as the plot, and one that shows a team of investigators readers can root for (rather than corrupt individuals or egotistical detectives only interested in their own glory). There is a lot of talk about religion, partly due to the plot, and partly to the main character’s own spiritual crisis, and this might put off some readers, although, personally, I enjoyed that aspect of the story, a likely reflection of the author’s personal journey.

Thanks to the author for this great novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling!

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog The Dark Web Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 4) by Brian O’Hare (@brianohare26) A first-rate challenge for those who love a bit of detecting #Bookreview

Hi all:

I bring you the review of the next book in a series that has quickly become one of my favourite police procedurals.

The Dark Web Murders by Brian O'Hare
The Dark Web Murders by Brian O’Hare

The Dark Web Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 4) by Brian O’Hare

I AM NEMEIN. I AM EMOTIONALLY DETACHED FROM MY KILLINGS. I AM NOT, THEREFORE, A MURDERER. I AM AN INSTRUMENT OF NEMESIS, A PUNISHER.

This is a theme running through a number of blogs on the Dark Web, written by a serial killer. He is highly intelligent and employs philosophical argument to justify a series of gruesome murders.  However, he describes the killings in lurid detail, and with such gloating relish, that he utterly negates his delusion of detachment and reveals himself to be a cold-blooded, narcissistic psychopath.

Sheehan and his team rush headlong down a series of blind alleys in the pursuit of the psychopath, who continues to murder his victims with impunity. He is fiendishly clever, utterly ruthless, and tests Sheehan’s famed intuition to the limit.  Indeed, Sheehan only learns the truth during a horrific climax when some members of his team experience a most harrowing ‘laceration of the soul’ that they will never be able to forget. It is unlikely that the reader will either.

“The first thing I thought after reading this book is: Why isn’t Brian O’Hare better known in the crime writing world? This man is extremely talented, and his book a wonderful ‘whodunnit’ that left me guessing until the end.” [Joseph Sousa, Crime Writer]

“Head and shoulders above most mystery authors who are published today, Brian O’Hare deserves a wider recognition. You won’t regret purchasing his books.” [C&B Todd, Amazon Reviewer]

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07NYH1FK4/

https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07NYH1FK4/

https://www.amazon.es/Dark-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07NYH1FK4/

Author Brian O'Hare
Author 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]”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brian-OHare/e/B001K89IWM/

My review:

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, that 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.

Thanks to the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep reading and smiling! ♥

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE COVEN MURDERS (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 3) by Brian O’Hare ( Great characters, a Northern Irish setting, and the devil is in the detail. #RBRT

Hi all:

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.

Review of The Coven Murders by Brian O'Hare
The Coven Murders by 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

https://www.amazon.com/Coven-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B079SHVTKH/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coven-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B079SHVTKH/

Author 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]”

My review:

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!

 

 

 

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#Bookreview The11:05 MURDERS (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 2) by Brian O’Hare (@brianohare26) A great example of the genre and the characters and the setting complement the mystery perfectly

Hi all:

Yes, you’ve guessed it. More book reviews. We’re getting there, although I keep reading, so it’s a bit of a catch-up. I recently came into contact with OnlineBookClub through a blog post and I’m intrigued (not that I need more books although one never knows what one might find out). I liked the sound of this book and well… here it is.

11:05 Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 2) by Brian O'Hare
The 11:05 Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 2) by Brian O’Hare

The 11:05 Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 2) by Brian O’Hare

Three people are murdered on separate Tuesday evenings at precisely 11.05. Random clues point to random suspects, but too many questions remain unanswered. Why 11.05pm for each killing? Is there any connection between these deaths and a rape that occurred at Queen’s university twelve years before? What is the connection between the killings and Sergeant Stewart’s mystery informant? Who is the violent stalker who twice nearly kills Detective Allen? What is his connection, if any, to the murders? When one of his team is kidnapped, Inspector Sheehan has literally only minutes to make sense of these questions if he is to save his colleague’s life.

The first thing I thought after reading this book is: why isn’t Brian O’Hare better known in the crime writing world? This man is extremely talented, and his book a wonderful ‘whodunnit’ that left me guessing until the end. [Joseph Sousa, Crime-writer]

Head and shoulders above most mystery authors who are published today, Brian O’Hare deserves far wider recognition. You won’t regret purchasing his books.[CBT, Amazon Reviewer]

Brian O’Hare is an intelligent and compassionate storyteller who takes his chosen genre a decent literary distance beyond your average ‘whodunnit’.[Robin Chambers, author]

An explosive mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end, riddled with unseen surprises and breathless suspense! [Wesley Thomas, writer and blogger]

Link:

https://www.amazon.com/11-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B01DAGR6CA/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/11-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B01DAGR6CA/

About the author:

Author Brian O’Hare

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]”

https://www.amazon.com/Brian-OHare/e/B001K89IWM/

My review:

I write this review as a member of the Online Book Club org.

This police procedural novel, the second in The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries series, is set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and it has it all: mysterious murders, a complex set of suspects that will keep fans of the genre spinning the wheels of their brains, a fascinating backdrop that includes political and religious issues, secondary themes that are in everybody’s minds (police corruption, sexual harassment, domestic violence, rape, stalking, financial crisis…), a team of policemen made up of distinct and realistic individuals, great dialogue, detailed crime scene investigation, touches of humour and even a dab of romance.

The story is told in the third person and it is narrated from the point of view of a variety of characters (mostly members of the police team, although also some chapters by some of the suspects), but there are no sudden changes in viewpoint and it does not cause any confusion. Instead, the style of the storytelling helps create a puzzle where the reader has more clues than any of the given characters, but there are also delayed discoveries and many red herrings, so things aren’t quite as easy as one might initially think. Being able to share in the different characters’ opinions and motivations gives the reader a multifaceted view that increases the intrigue.

At the beginning of the story we have a female Sergeant Detective, Denise Stewart, join Sheehan’s team. She has been through a harrowing experience at her previous post that has made her defensive and suspicious. Despite that, it doesn’t take long for her to realise Sheehan’s team is different and she starts to relax. Unfortunately, other things start going on in her life that seem, initially, completely unrelated to the murder they are investigating, a rather gross and well-planned crime that took place on a Tuesday at, exactly, 11:05 pm. There are several lines of enquiry, a fragment of a cufflink that keeps popping up, suspects galore, assaults on one of the detectives (young and handsome Tom Allen, who has taken an interest in Stewart), and Sheehan has the feeling that he’s missing something. His famous intuition seems to be letting him down but…

This is the second book in the series and although I have not read the previous one, I had no difficulty getting into the story. This is a standalone book that can be enjoyed without having read the first one but after having read this one I hope to read more in the series.

This novel could serve as an illustration on how to write mystery and police procedural books. The writing is precise, with enough descriptions and fleshing out of the characters to make the readers recognise them and care for them, with clues masterfully shared throughout the book, with no extraneous details or anything that does not move the story forward included. Even seemingly innocuous or passing comments have a reason and the twists and turns of the story will have readers choosing and discarding numerous suspects, keeping them always on their toes. The pacing and timing of the reveals work very well. When I was getting close to the end, I kept stopping and trying to run all the clues in my head to see who the perpetrator was. I had my suspicions from the beginning but kept changing my mind as the story went.  Ah, and the ending did not disappoint.

Both the murder being investigated and the detectives are interesting in their own right and readers will end up feeling a part of Sheehan’s team. The light and humorous moments alternate with tense and scary moments enhancing both. The local touches and references to locations and historical events (the troubles) make it particularly memorable and distinct. I recommend it to any readers who love police procedural mysteries with great characters and complex plots. A word of warning, due to the nature of the crime and to some of the other scenes, this is not a book for the faint-hearted and is definitely not a cozy mystery.

Thanks very much to the author and to OnlineBookClub for the discovery, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!

Oh, and just in case you want to explore OnlineBookClub, here is my review there.

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