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Bumbling cops, sloppy policing and excessive gore

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-04-2020

i love tough female detectives and was excited to find one at the level of superintendent. But Katie Maguire is no feminist hero, overcoming obstacles to succeed. Even she appears to believe she was lucky to have been promoted due to affirmative action (?!). For me, she is bit lacklustre as a character with none of the insight and alertness required of good detectives. In fact, she and her team are plodding bunch, distracted and compromised by their own misdemeanours (including wife beating!), slow on the uptake and making obvious missteps with the result that several people are slaughtered due their incompetence (IRL, there would surely be an inquiry and demotions after this debacle of a case but in Cork, we're led to believe, the good guys cover everything up).
Some might find this an exciting story (although the blood and guts is OTT). There are twists and turns, for sure, but the whole thing is strung out due to painfully bumbling policework, which we are supposed not to notice. Had one senior detective done what he'd been told early on, the killer would've been quickly identified. The ending is a bit much.

Enjoyable, almost insightful but flawed/contrived

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-03-2020

This is a beautifully written book with two beguiling central characters (rendered even more sexy in Aoife McMahon's reading). As super-bright students, the narrative is premised on their eloquent but often confused self exploration. i see how this might be hailed as future classic coming-of-age story -- but there are too many shortcomings to really merit this accolade.
For example, the initial act of betrayal (around the 'debs' incident) is random and inexplicable. We are asked to believe that the highly sensitive Connell simply does things without thought or capacity for remorse/self examination (which he subsequently practices in abundance). Whilst it is certainly conceivable that a teenager might do something spontaneously thoughtless, not enough is made of this -- so the act from which so much else flows looks like a mere plot device, There is no depth examination here. Nor is there is there any grappling with the family relationships which in the latter stages of the book are revealed to be formative. Connell's bad behaviour is all the more inexplicable given that he is the son of the (rather two-dimensional) "good mother". Similarly the scenario of the abusive family producing the self punishing child seems to come out of nowhere--again, more like a plot device than a consistent psychological character study.
i think reviewers have forgiven these flaws, conveniently ascribing the lack of depth and insight to the youthful characters themselves -- but that seems a cop-out. Rooney is a terrific writer, of course, but this work is over-hyped.

Jo Spain +Aoife McMahon = sublime storytelling!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-03-2020

i am completely addicted to this series. Firstly, i love everything Jo Spain writes. Aside from the characters and great stories, she always has a strong social justice angle and the books always say something about the culture. And then there is Aoife who does something magic with these books. Her range is incredible, and i love the mix of Dublin and Kerry accents. Most amazing is the quite seductive Tom Reynolds. It's notoriously difficult for female readers to pull off credible male characters and vice versa. Often they're just passable -- but honestly, i am completely swept away by Tom :)

Crackin' tale--not perfect but v. enjoyable

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-02-2020

Some things about this book made me sigh. i was looking for something in the vein of the brilliant Jo Spain. At first i thought the writing of this was a bit clunky and cliched by comparison -- as are some of the characters. But i must admit i was totally engrossed, contriving long walks to get more of it. Certainly a gripping story.
The narrative is ambitious and therefore has exciting moments but it also gets a little overblown and almost veers out of control. Also some details are glossed over and if you think too much about it, you can only conclude that the genius cops are not that systematic and overlook some obvious points. However, i guess the mark of a great crime writer is maintaining the suspension of disbelief so readers don't get hung up on implausible detail. i think she does that for the most part.

I'd certainly recommend this. And Aoife McMahon is one of the best Audible readers of all time.

Wonderful--my favourite crime writer!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-02-2020

i love Jo Spain! As usual from her, this is terrific, well-crafted story telling. Great characters, gripping tale, and fascinating detail about the Magdalen Laundries. Substantial and well written... Total pleasure.

Terrific story

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-02-2020

This is book is real delight. Jo Spain is certainly an entertaining and skilful story teller. Whilst the book progresses with a light and breezy humour, it is deceptively complex in some ways. There is quite lot of plotting due to the number of major characters, all of which are impressively fleshed out. The interwoven voice of Olive is a great device.
i was looking for an entertaining, lightweight crime story and expected this to run according the usual formulas but instead found something fresh, original and a cut above.
Beautifully read too.

Why Posh English narrators for this series??!

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-02-2020

i confess to having a general dislike of posh English narrators but wanted to try this series. i picked the Clare Corbett over Jane McDowell because she sounded marginally less plummy (and i had actually enjoyed her reading of The Widow).

But the whole performance fell apart for me when early on it emerged that the lead character was originally from a working class background. Clare's voice carries no trace of this - and even if we're supposed to believe that Ruth totally transformed her accent into Received English pronunciation (who does that anymore?!) there is a real problem, given that the text is full of class references and observations. As Ruth and her uni pals all sound upper class, the North-South jokes come off as snooty with no hint of self awareness, humour or affection -- and the situation is not helped by the caricatural (working class) Northerner voices. Even more surprising: Cathbad, who sounds like the Duke of Edinburgh in this reading, turns out to be born and raised in Ireland!

In this day and age, *posh* should not be accepted as neutral. Fine if the characters themselves are upper class but there are plenty of good readers around who went to regular comprehensive schools!!

Terrific story, great voice, lots of substance

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-01-2020

i am always reluctant to blow a credit on a book under 4 hours but this was absolutely stunning from start to finish. i loved the narrator being a Northerner (not posh English!) telling a story that cuts across the power politics of class, gender and region. The scenario is fresh and original, using an unorthodox archeological trip to grapple with issues that are central to contemporary life. Sarah Moss is a brilliant writer who manages to deal with complex psychological entanglements in a way that is subtle and compassionate but also meaty. The characters of Silvie and her father are full of energy and vigour -- utterly absorbing -- and the story rocks along to a disturbing conclusion.

If like me, you like a good story with psychological depth and some flair in the writing, as well something that breaks free of the familiar formulas, this is for you!

Strong, penetrating, stylish memoir

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-01-2020

This is a really wonderful book. Strong overtones of Karl Ove Knausgaard in the way that everyday family interactions are explored -- but this memoir is driven by a fearless exploration of a life lived in the shadow of abuse and family collusion. Amazingly clear sighted, literary and emotionally raw at the same time.

This is a classic of the #MeToo era and essential reading for anyone interested in the nuances of emotional politics in families.

Good reader mis-cast

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-12-2019

Narrator is a good reader/story-teller but his character voicing sounds too old and placid for a detective who it turns out is only 39. Also, like a number of male readers he opts for an effete, breathy voice to denote female. This means that characters like the smart, tough pathologist end up sounding somewhat weak and feeble. i just couldn't get a picture of this team as i felt they were tougher and more dynamic than the voices conveyed. That said, the story goes along at a nice pace. Agree with some of the criticisms that the characters need more depth -- and the supposedly smart Caslin seems inexplicably to ignore some obvious lines of inquiry. But he's basically an interesting type and the stories are good.