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on 6 May 2012
Taken starts at a clip and steadily builds steam. Niamh O'Connor works as the true crime editor of the Sunday World and she brings her knowledge of Ireland's criminal underbelly to the story, fictionalising elements of rumours concerning high class prostitution she's heard in her day job. Whilst the criminal side of the story, linking the rich and famous with underclass criminal gangs seems credible, the policing and family side of the story seemed less so. The guards are portrayed as incompetent, jealous and backstabbing, and the procedural elements are weak. This worked to create some tension and melodrama, but also undermined the credibility of the story. The plot also relied on some awkward set-ups at times, such as leaving the car unlocked, putting people in an inspector's office unattended, and a mobile phone too wet to use. Despite this, the story rattles along at a heck of a pace, dragging the reader with it as the various threads are woven together and resolved, culminating in an explosive finale. And given the high melodrama, its breakneck speed, and the mixing of the rich, famous and criminal gangs I can easily envisage Taken being serialised for television. Overall, a searing commentary on the legacy of Celtic Tiger excesses, played out through thrill-bound melodrama.
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VINE VOICEon 22 August 2012
Jo Birmingham, is the feisty female detective that you first meet in If I Never See You Again. She is a single mother with two boys, one a mere baby, the other a mere teenager. Not only has she to deal with juggling this family life that was not really of her choosing. Her ex also happens to be her boss. Now she has even more to prove.

Jo's choice of career makes all the challenges perhaps even harder - she is a Detective Inspector and in this novel, she goes into some rather dark and seedy places to get a result. Justice.

A child goes missing from the back seat of a car, whilst their mother is in the petrol station. A mother's worst nightmare, you turn your back for two minutes. But this mother is famous in Ireland, she has it all. Beauty, money, an ideal life; on the surface. Underneath it is darker place full of drugs, corruption and sex as a resource. When she wants no publicity for the missing child, there is obviously more to this than a simply case of a child being taken.

It is now up to DI Jo Birmingham to bring the pieces together. And when a video tape is left for her at the police station, does the evidence point to a much bigger case where more people will want to keep their names out of the spotlight? But surely the first most important thing to do is to reunite child with mother? So why is there a reluctance to put the resources onto this case? A question for her ex-husband?

This is a crime novel which from the moment you start reading, draws you right into the plot, the setting and the characters. It is not a nice world that we live in and this book demonstrates that for me quite effectively. Niamh O'Connor draws on her research from as a true crime editor of a newspaper to weave a story that looks like it could have stepped straight out of a Sunday tabloid and a glossy magazine combined. In fact Niamh, admits in her foreword that this is probably based on something that cannot be proved.

This in itself intrigued me as a reader, and how the power of celebrity and the power of power can sometimes fall apart around you. A good read.
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on 2 July 2014
To solve Ireland’s crime problem all we need is Jo Bermingham’s instinct! I gave her the benefit of the doubt in the first book of the series but she stared to annoy me in this one. Based on one brief conversation she decides she wants this case and drops everything and starts to work on it even though she’s been told not to – realistic? The downtrodden woman working against chauvinistic men was trotted out again – it gets boring after a while. And out of nowhere she solves a murder that seemed like it was going to be a big story at the start of the book but was then dropped entirely until the end.

Having said that it is a decent and enjoyable read (of its type).
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on 25 May 2011
I loved Niamh O'Connor's first novel If I Never See You Again, was left frantically trying to finish it at the heart stopping ending - so I was really looking forward to what happend next to the ballsy DI Jo Birmingham. But I really wasn't expecting the way O'Connor's new novel Taken keeps surprising the reader right to the last page - I couldn't put it down!

Grabbing you in the first page, O'Connor plays on every mother's fears and hooks you into a plot that twists and turns so fast you just have to keep reading to find out what happens next. The sense of confusion at a murder scene where the facts presented and the evidence just don't add up was masterfully executed - it's easy for us readers who watch cop dramas to think that gut instinct and forensics will throw up the killer everytime. As O'Connor knows from her job as True Crime editor of the Sunday World, real life and real policing isn't like that - and you can't trust anything you see.

This is a fabulous read, exposing the tragic dark side of wealth and celebrity, a fast paced thriller that will leave you thinking next time you open Hello! Magazine, and keep you guessing to the end. Couldn't recommended it highly enough.
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In February 2011 I read Niamh O'Connor's debut novel and really enjoyed it. I was looking forward to reading the second instalment. We once again meet the feisty Jo Birmingham who as a female DI is one of the few female senior officers in Dublin. She is trying to manage her work as well as her children and being a single parent makes her life that little bit harder. The Model and It-Girl Tara Parker French drives into a petrol station to fill up and runs into the station to pay. She leaves her three year old son Presley in the car, and that is her biggest mistake.

With Tara's child kidnapped Jo does her best to help with the case. What she can't work out is why Tara doesn't want the public to know he is missing. Before long in true Jo Birmingham style she has forced herself into the middle of the case irrelevant of the consequences. Jo is a character I really liked as although she was feisty she was also human and that means mistakes. It makes her all the more likeable as a character. We also see the return of her colleagues Gavin Sexton, Foxy and her ex-husband (who also happens to be her boss) Dan.

The story itself is pretty intriguing early on as you get to see the sheer terror of Tara whose child has been snatched. What I didn't realise was that as soon as I was hooked on that part of the story I didn't really come up for air. The book itself isn't too lengthy but has enough substance to make it interesting. The crime element of the story covers pretty much everything with drugs, sex crimes as well as corruption and extortion to name a few. Towards the end it picked up again and I have to say I read the last quarter of the book the quickest. The ending surprised me, but I have to say it leaves the reader really wanting to pick up the next book to find out what happens to the characters.

There is a lot of crime books and especially new authors about at the moment. Niamh O'Connor will definitely be making it on my `to read' list every year, but has yet to blow me away. It seems she has created a great series with characters that are slowly worming their way into people's minds. Most definitely somebody to watch for the future!
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on 3 May 2012
When model Tara pulls into a garage to fill up with petrol she doesn't expect it to turn into a living nightmare, her toddler son is snatched from the car whilst she was inside paying. Although she suspects who is behind the kidnapping she needs help to get her son back so she turns to DI Jo Birmingham for help.

However, Jo soon realises that there is something more sinister at stake than simply the kidnapping of an innocent child, especially when an anonymous DVD is left at the station showing Tara in a horrifying situation. It's soon clear to her that the kidnapping of Presley is someone trying to send Tara a message and investigations soon lead her into the criminal underworld of high-class escorts, human trafficking and drugs.

Tara is terrified and won't help Jo with her investigation so when Tara collapses from an overdose, and several crucial suspects for the kidnapping are found dead, can Jo find Presley before it's too late?

I first heard of Niamh O'Connor when her debut novel, If I Never See You Again, was recommended to me last year by a friend and I wasn't disappointed as it was a book that I couldn't put down. I'd been awaiting the release of this her second novel for a few months since I finished reading the first and overall I wasn't disappointed.

Although it was apparent quite early on who was behind all the events, there was still enough intrigue to keep me gripped and I finished reading the book over a couple of nights. Her next novel, Too Close For Comfort, is due out in trade paperback next month and looks set to be another interesting case for DI Jo Birmingham.
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on 11 March 2016
I have no excuse for continuing to read this book. The author may be a crime journalist, however, a novelist she is not.
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2012
Having just finished this, I felt a more objective impression was required for readers who might be drawn in by some of the more ridiculously over-the-top five-star reviews here ...the book is no more than a barely decent read at best - albeit entirely unconvincing for the most part. As already pointed out elsewhere here. More bitty than gritty, I think the real problem is the constantly changing POV (point of view). The author may well be a 'true-crime' reporter but frankly you'd never have guessed it and she is very much second division in this field. While the various elements of the plot are just about brought together and tied up at the end, the actual dénouement is so laboriously contrived that you can almost hear the creaking and clanking of improbable coincidence clashing with unlikely clichéd circumstance. I still don't understand why 'heroine' DI Jo Birmingham ends up dashing to get to her ex- before the drug baron homicidal killer - the two hadn't even been mentioned in the same context previously. Avoid.
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on 26 May 2011
Taken is without a doubt my favourite book of the year so far. Having read the author's previous book, If I Never See You Again, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one. Right from the very start, I found myself holding my breath as the scene unfolds. Niamh's attention to detail and knowledge of the criminal world makes Taken a compelling and un-put-downable book! I couldn't recommend it enough.
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on 20 June 2011
Tara Parker Trench is a single mother and model in her late 20's. Returning from an overseas job on a dark Sunday night, she stops at a petrol station on the wrong side of Dublin city. Leaving her little boy in the back of her distinctive Mini-Cooper, she dashes to pay for her petrol. Moments later, she's faced with every parent's worst nightmare. Her son has been snatched. Horrified and distraught, she hurries to the one person she feels she can rely on in the police force - Detective Inspector Jo Birmingham.
Empathy for the young parent comes naturally for Jo. A mother of two herself, she cannot imagine what it's like to be in the other girl's shoes. Fighting her superiors she stays with the case, determined to rake over every clue to bring the boy back safely to his mother. And time it seems is of the utmost as the little boy is reliant on his asthma medication to prevent a serious breathing attack.
Jo's boss, Dan Mason, also happens to be her ex-husband, a detail that doesn't help their working relationship. Having his eagle eye watching her every move and criticising her parenting mounts the pressure on the working mum.
Welcoming the help of experienced colleagues, her belief that they will succeed in reuniting mother and son fades fast as she uncovers a link between the child snatch and one of Dublin's most vicious and unstable drug barons. Though her training and experience help her maintain focus in the dangerous world she's investigating, nothing can prepare her for the fear that this intricate case is putting her own family at risk.
Violence, sex-trafficking, hard core drugs and violent murders are par for the course in the chapters of Taken. Despite this breath-holding tale being a work of incredible fiction, it comes as no surprise that it is written by true crime editor of the Sunday World, Niamh O'Connor. Her familiarity and expertise adds to the layers of suspense in this cleverly woven plot. Just as the reader thinks DI Jo has solved the mystery, the story escalates to a whole new level, forcing the investigator to up her game and use every connection she has to outwit hardened criminals.
I'll be waiting patiently to see DI Jo Birmingham appear on our TV screens in the not-too-distant future.
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