Hi everyone, it's Heather posting today with a review on the paranormal crime book The Coven Murders. Many thanks to the author for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Brian O'Hare
Published: February 2018
Publisher: Crimson Cloak Publishing
Length: 385 pages
Brief Description (from Amazon)
The Coven Murders opens with a horrifying account of a ritual Black Mass with a human sacrifice in an abandoned church. Twenty-one years later, near an old ruined church in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Chief Inspector Sheehan and his team discover the skeleton of a young woman. But what seems initially to be a straightforward case, brings the team into conflict with a powerful Satanist who has plans to offer up to Satan another human sacrifice on the evening of the great Illuminati feast of Lughnasa. Several murders occur, baffling the Inspector until he makes a connection between the modern murders and the twenty-one year old skeleton. The team’s pursuit of the murderer, and their determination to protect a young woman who is targeted by the coven, lead to a horrific climax in a hellish underground crypt where Sheehan and his team, supported by an exorcist and a bishop, attempt to do battle with the coven and a powerful demon of Baphomet, jeopardising not only their lives, but risking the wrath of Satan upon their immortal souls.
It’s fairly unusual for us to be approached with books that merge together the paranormal and crime thriller genres so I was pleased when O’Hare contacted me with this one. The novel is set in Northern Ireland where the police force is bombarded with both the discovery of a skeleton and a series of murders. With the potential linking of the two cases and the strange whiff of supernatural in the air, Chief Inspector Sheehan and his team work hard to try and find the culprit before anyone else is murdered. I haven’t read the rest of this series but as a standalone book it works very well and isn’t at all confusing. I am very proud to announce that I guessed the identity of the murderer pretty early on (I hereby expect to be addressed as Sherlock Holmes… or Chief Inspector Sheehan, a commendable detective indeed) possibly because I read too much crime fiction. This didn’t reduce my enjoyment though, on the contrary, I found this a gripping read that gave me a lot of relief to an otherwise stressful weekend spent planning and writing essays.
The story is set in Northern Ireland, somewhere I must confess I’ve always wanted to go. There is some interesting history to the Protestant-Catholic conflicts still prominent over there included in the story. The imagery, particularly during the festival scene, is fantastic. If I’m being really pernickety then are moments when the writing style feels a little repetitive, for instance, the car-tailing scenes are quite similar and at the start, the word ‘grinned’ is overused. Overall the dialogue is very good, however, it does sometimes border on stereotypical with the upper-class characters being veeery posh and the dodgier guys really showing it! Aside from this, I can’t flaw O’Hare at all, I found the book engaging and exciting.
The police and forensics team itself are a real treat – such vibrant and comedic characters! Throughout reading this they delighted me, both from their amusing lines and O’Hare’s careful consideration on each of their backgrounds. It can never be emphasised enough just how valuable a sub-plot is to adding new dimensions to characters and achieving that all-important sense of verisimilitude. Most of all, I have to praise the O’Hare for writing McNeill’s speech impediment in a professional manner. There is a very small quantity, both in film and literature, of characters who have long-term stammers. Even when this is represented, 95% of the time the writer only includes it to provide a bullying storyline or to give the character an innocent, anxious or quiet persona, often as an act (like Quirrell in the Harry Potter series and Tina in Glee). As you can tell from my ranting, it’s one of my pet peeves so congratulations O’Hare on being part of the minority that does not do that! I also found Andrew a complete and utter sweetheart and hope he finds some happiness in the next book.
Overall I found this a stimulating read with wonderfully written characters. The paranormal elements weren’t too cliched and slotted into the general rhythm of the novel nicely. I’ll be back next month with another review, see you then!