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Sleeping Beauties: A chilling serial killer thriller from the critically acclaimed author (An Inspector Tom Reynolds Mystery) Paperback – 17 May 2018
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Deft plotting and expert handling of tension make for an intelligent mystery (Guardian)
Fiendishly clever . . . and a big fat twist is lobbed into the ending like a hand grenade (Irish Sunday Independent)
Brilliant! Fast paced, well researched and sensitive. Jo Spain is a sparkling new talent (Irish Examiner)
Spain's vivid thriller explores the dark secrets of Ireland's past that are a real-life situation haunting so many people within Irish society today (Irish Country Living)
In a very strong year for Irish crime-fiction debuts, Jo Spain's With Our Blessing is among the most assured . . . With Our Blessing picks at the scabs of recent Irish history to reveal raw and gaping wounds (Irish Times)
Jo Spain's vivid thriller explores the dark secrets from Ireland's past that continue to haunt Irish society today (Martin Sixsmith, author of Philomena)
Atmospheric and compelling (Sinéad Crowley)
Spain handles the inevitable tensions with aplomb (Sunday Times)
Packed with fascinating details . . . this is a satisfying mystery (Irish Independent)
Absolutely my comfort reading (Ann Cleeves)
The Irish Bestselling author of With Our Blessing and Beneath the SurfaceSee all Product description
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Fiona Holland has been missing for two weeks when a body is discovered at a well-known beauty spot. It looks as though it has been recently buried in a rather shallow grave, but the corpse is several years old so why has it been recently reburied? Smart detective work finds four more graves and it is evident that a serial killer is on the loose. However, none of the bodies is Fiona.
The book is concerned with the search to find Fiona and the killer, but it is interlaced with the ongoing private lives of Tom and his team. Enough information is given, in a totally appropriate way, for it not to matter if you have not read the previous books. The strands of the story are kept perfectly in balance, neither dominating, but acting to heighten the tension as the plot weaves towards its climax.
This is an excellent series. Both the characters and police setting ring true and as we get to know Tom’s team their characters develop and deepen. I was engrossed right from the start and read it in one long, very satisfied sitting. Highly recommended - as are With Our Blessing and Beneath the Surface.
Tom Reynolds's investigation brings more than just five terrible murder cases to light, and I don't just mean the fate of Fiona Holland, the missing young woman who might well be the sixth victim of the killer if he isn't stopped. The backgrounds of the victims also reveals deep-rooted prejudices and intolerance that exists against young women whose behaviour - drinking and carrying on with men - doesn't meet the standards of decency and propriety that is ingrained by social and religious traditions. The serial-killer might be preying on such women at a rate of one each year, but it's apparent that a blind-eye has been turned to the abuse of many other Irish women over the years, in some cases undoubtedly resulting in other unknown and unacknowledged deaths.
Such issues arise naturally out of the situation and the location, and Jo Spain never lets any moralising get in the way of the primary focus of the novel's crime investigation. The same thing can be said - mostly - for the domestic matters that are also a feature of the author's books. I can't imagine anyone is excited at the predictable playing out of the nauseating romantic situation between Ray and Laura, but Spain at least keeps emotions there related to the case in hand. Tom's difficulties with his new boss also connect meaningfully with the old-fashioned 'how things are done' attitudes of the Irish police force.
After tackling priests and politicians in previous books, the police prove to be a more difficult agent of power to get a handle on, since evidently DI Tom Reynolds represents a more progressive and modern version of the Garda from the old one that Spain's novel is so critical of. Sleeping Beauties isn't quite so hard-hitting on that front then as it might be, and there are also some doubts about the coincidences that are needed to provide the customary twist to the resolution. On the other hand, it might just prove the point that Ireland is a relatively small place where gossip and provincial attitudes largely prevail, and that will doubtless provide many other areas of crime, corruption and abuse of power for Jo Spain's detective to uncover.
The novel begins in the heart of the Irish countryside when five shallow graves are discovered, all of which are young women. When Fiona Holland goes missing, the race is on to find out who the murderer is and if Fiona is the next victim.
The team is headed by Inspector Tom Reynolds and his tight knit team including DS Ray Lennon and DS Laura Brennan. The banter is fast, witty, the action quick and methodical. There is enough attention to police procedures but without being weighed down in all of the technicalities, instead the focus is upon the people who are leading the investigation and those who are involved. It is very much a character driven narrative with an engaging serial killer plot.
The story is interspersed with first person accounts from the five women who were killed, that helps to shed light upon the human and emotional angle about what happened to these women. As well as helping us, the reader, to establish what happened to them, it also helps us to realise that the bodies that are found had a life, a story, and that they mattered. The novel deals with issues of sexual abuse and violence towards women, and the author manages to create a sensitive read with the women's voices being powerful and of importance. It is a novel that explores the power of women, and of women's sexuality, and of how this is perceived by society. This is reinforced with the character of DS Laura, she is no shrinking violet and is treated as an equal by her peers.
As well as the main plot being that of catching a serial killer, we also gain insight into the private lives of the detectives in the story. We read about DI Tom and his lovely family, and his friendship with his former chief and his wife June who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Here we meet a man who is refreshingly different from the stereotypical drinking, grumpy and lone detective, as he is happily married and generally happy. I also loved the dynamics between Ray and Laura, they made me smile and my heart skip a beat.
Sleeping Beauties really does have it all. It is a thought provoking and entertaining read and I can't wait to read the next story in the series.
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I enjoyed her first one 'With our blessing' and this follow up didn't let me...Read more