Gerard O’Donovan

Sphere £6.99 paperback

Released: 11th November 2010

Reviewer: Sara Townsend

  Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly.  She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group.  
On the streets of Dublin, someone is preying on young girls. The girls are found, tortured and mutilated, their bodies branded by a metal cross. The only things the girls have in common is that they are all young, dressed for a night out and wearing crucifixes, which have been removed by their attacker, who becomes known as “The Priest”.

What’s different about this crime thriller is that this predator is leaving his victims alive. The one victim who dies has a congenital heart defect. The antagonist is not a killer, it seems. It’s someone who’s trying to make a point. He’s targeting people he feels are making a mockery of the crucifix they wear. And there is a great deal of religious undertone in this book, not just revolving around the antagonist. There’s an underlying sense of Catholic guilt in all the characters – whether they are believers or not. I found this quite claustrophobic.

There were things I liked about this book. I liked the fact that I was kept guessing about the identity of the antagonist. There are several false leads, and although I knew they were false leads, I didn’t work out who the villain was until about the same time the police did.

Sadly, though, in my view, this novel fails to deliver what it promises. This is just one more crime thriller in a saturated market, doing nothing different from any other. The characters are stereotypes. There is the flawed, embittered, loner cop; the bitchy female superior; the sexy lady journalist (who the flawed loner cop unwisely sleeps with). Most of the police officers are cardboard cut-outs, pretty much interchangeable.

Nobody’s doing anything new and original and although I am quite happy to have unlikeable characters in a crime novel – after all, flawed characters are far more interesting to read about – they still have to have sufficiently redeeming features to be able to command the reader’s empathy. None of the characters in this novel drew me in sufficiently to be able to care about them.

It could be I’ve read too much in this genre recently to get excited about yet another cops-hunting-down-sick-predator novel. But I found this book a disappointment, and it failed to engage me.






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