A priest is found murdered and dumped on a riverbank. He had been tortured and castrated before he was killed and the police are on the trail of why he was murdered, who killed him, who were they going to kill next, and why the church authorities were so keen to cover things up.
Who are the main characters?
This is the second outing of the main protagonist, Katie Maguire, a female detective who heads up an otherwise male investigation team, but the church also plays a very prominent part to this story in the shape of several parish priests and Monsignor Kelly who is acting on behalf of the Bishop.
Where is it set?
It is set in Cork, Ireland.
My overall impression?
I didn’t get into this book right away but once I did I literally couldn’t put it down. The fact that there seemed to be some sort of vigilante revenge killer on the loose ridding the city of abusive priests was just too alluring for me – even at 1 o’clock in the morning two nights running!
As the story unfolds you get drawn into a tale of historical abuse that is now coming home to roost. Whenever I hear the words “child abuse” certain things immediately spring to mind as I’m sure they would with anyone else – physical punishment, sexual abuse, neglect etc – but the abuse that is uncovered in this book is so far out of my realm of expectation it was amazing. None of the “usual” sort of abuse was covered here (thank God), it was something entirely different and centred around the formation of a very special children’s choir years and years ago.
Without giving too much of the plot away, I will say that there are some scenes of stomach-churning torture in this book, and there is a fair bit of violence too. The characters themselves are fairly well drawn and I generally believed them, although more than once or twice I found myself asking “would he/she really say that?”. The plot itself was believable and the ending was only just the right side of “questionably supernatural”.
There was a subplot along the way involving Katie’s sister that wasn’t necessary at all to the book, and I wouldn’t have felt anything was missing if it had been left out altogether. I could see that it would serve as a setup to the next in the series, or even as a running thread if the book was ever shown on TV, but as far as this book is concerned then no, not necessary.
I do have to warn you that the Catholic church doesn’t come out of this book too well – secrets, cover-ups, lies, abuse and all that – and even though there’s nothing that hasn’t been reported in the press before (well, almost nothing…) it still made me look at the church of Ireland in a different light. It’s one thing to have an opinion on what the priests were up to in secret but to have it spelled out to you is something else.
Will I read the next in the series?
If there is another one then yes, I would read it. I quite like Katie Maguire and I enjoyed the first one in this series – White Bones – and I would like to see what happens to her in the future.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
Yes, if you like crime thrillers with a new reason for exacting revenge then this is the book for you. Some of the passages are a bit gruesome and gory, but if you can get past that then the rest of the book more than makes up for it.