Another outing with Bookouture‘s Books on Tour today, and I’m delighted to share my review of Silent Night, the first in a new crime thriller series by Geraldine Hogan: published yesterday (23rd August), it’s now available via Amazon for kindle and in paperback, and also on Apple Books, Kobo and Googleplay. My thanks to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy, provided through netgalley.
And yes, I did say “crime thriller” – you might not find many of those here on Being Anne, but this was one I just couldn’t resist. Geraldine also writes contemporary fiction, under the name of Faith Hogan, and I’m an unashamed fan – you’ll find reviews of them all if you pop her name into the search box. So I was really intrigued to see how her style translated to thriller writing – and the answer, I’m delighted to say, is very well indeed…
‘She reached into the pram and placed her hands on the cotton blanket. It was still warm. But her smiling, new baby sister, with her wide blue-grey eyes, was gone…’
Twenty five years later, three bodies are found at a ramshackle cottage in the Irish countryside, and Detective Iris Locke is sick to her stomach. The victims are Anna Crowe and her two young children.
Iris has only recently joined the Limerick Murder Squad. Against her father’s advice, she’s working the narrow lanes and green hills of her childhood. Iris still remembers Anna, who was just a small girl when her baby sister was snatched, never to be seen again. It was the one case Iris’ own father never solved, and Iris can’t help but wonder if the two crimes are connected.
She’ll stop at nothing to find Anna justice, but a fire has destroyed almost all the physical evidence, and Limerick is the same small town she remembers: everybody protects their neighbours, and Iris has been away for too long.
Can Iris unpick the lies beneath the surface of her pretty hometown, and catch the most twisted individual of her career, when reopening the old case means reopening old wounds for her team, the rest of the community, and her own father?
Fans of Patricia Gibney, Angela Marsons and L.J. Ross won’t want to miss this – the first book in a gripping and unputdownable new crime series.
As I so rarely visit my dark side, I’m not going to focus so much on the story and its appeal, but on the strength of the writing. And I think the best place to start is with the characterisation, which is quite tremendous.
Iris herself is a bit of a loner, rather buttoned up, reluctantly joining the murder team in Limerick: her reluctance is largely because of the shadow of her father, a long serving officer there himself, something of a legend, now retired and spending his days on the golf course. I liked her a lot, with her distinct abrasiveness, trying to keep her distance and maintain her professional front.
But every character in this book has a depth and three dimensions, and the joy of this book for me was in their interactions and back stories. Grady’s very intriguing – a bit enigmatic, a few secrets to explore in later books there, with umpteen sides to his personality – and I liked the softness he was capable of when it was called for.
And then there’s Slattery: he’s not just close to the line but frequently crosses it, a bad boy and a bit of a dinosaur. But he also has a home life full of complications and a touch of sadness, and I found that very touching and some small excuse for his behaviour: by the story’s end, I was cheering for him from the sidelines. The supporting cast at the station is excellent too, every individual well drawn, from the young and enthusiastic to the ones who’ve seen it all.
I won’t neglect the story altogether though, because it’s excellent – an investigation into the murder of a mother and two children, which might have links (but might not) with the shocking disappearance of a child many years before, tantalisingly glimpsed in the prologue. The pace of the story is steady – there’s a degree of police procedure, diversions into the lives of the main characters – but interspersed with those moments when Iris places herself at real risk, when you want to shout “don’t do it” and “look behind you” but she does it anyway and you have your heart in your mouth. The ending is quite stunning, and has all the more impact because it comes from left field a little – and that really works so very well.
I know there’s a tremendous appetite for regionally based crime, but I don’t think I’ve read any Irish based crime before: the Limerick setting is vividly drawn, the streets and the surroundings (and the pubs) becoming familiar as the story progresses.
I’ve mentioned that the pace is steady – but I think that’s what the story and its telling needed, establishing its strong characters and the context for future books, with a few hints of how the relationships between them might develop. A TV series of the future, maybe? I can certainly see the potential…!
About the author
Geraldine Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree in Training and Management from University College, Galway. She is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of four contemporary fiction novels under the pen name Faith Hogan.
Silent Night is her first crime novel, her second is due out in December 2019.
She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!