BRING HER HOME – (Boyle & Keneally #1)
Jessie Boyle swore she’d never return to Ireland. But grieving the death of her partner, and the premature end of her London Met career, she can’t say no to the case that holds her homeland in its grip. And it’s not long before Jessie uncovers something everyone else has missed: Penny isn’t the first girl to go missing.
Going back decades, women have been taken from Cahirsiveen, their bodies found on ancient burial mounds. A reference to a little-known Celtic myth buried in her messages convinces Jessie that Penny is the latest victim of the same killer. Folklore can do funny things to a small community in the misty mountains, and Jessie suspects she’s dealing with the most twisted mind of her career.
The eyes of Ireland are on Jessie and her new team, and as the boss turns up the heat, they learn to live and breathe the case. But Jessie is haunted by her own demons, and the cracks are beginning to show.
Time is running out. And just when Jessie thinks she’s found a vital clue linking the victims to a remote farm, she realises she could be next. Can she piece together the face of evil and save Penny’s life, or will he get to Jessie first.
Shane Dunphy, is a child protection expert, author, journalist, musician, broadcaster and teacher. He is married to Deirdre Wickham, has two children and is also a proud Grandad. He worked as a child and social care worker throughout Ireland for fifteen years, and still practices on a consultancy basis. He is currently Head of the Social Care Department at Waterford College of Further Education.
Shane’s journalism has covered an eclectic range of material, and he has worked for a broad cross section of newspapers. He has also made several documentaries for television and radio.
Music is also prominent in his media work. He sings with a mid-range tenor voice and is a proficient multi-instrumentalist, performing live regularly.
Through his books we learn that Shane is a caffeine addict; is an ex-smoker; enjoys music, particularly folk and blues; reads a lot, but favours crime novels; can cook very well; has dogs; and has moved around a lot, living in various locations for short periods of time.
His non-fiction books combine autobiographical detail with in-depth discussion of case work, following the complexities, triumphs, challenges and defeats of child protection work as it is done on a day-to-day basis. His fiction is terse, character driven, and has been praised for its originality and refusal to conform to one genre, although Shane describes it as ‘broadly crime fiction’.
Visit Shane’s website
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“I had to write the Boyle and Keneally series. These characters and the world they live in called to me, and I had no choice but to answer…
From the previous research I did while writing the books in the ‘Dunnigan’ crime series’, I was put in contact with a number of people who worked alongside the police force in Ireland who were not, in fact, police officers themselves. I met psychologists, social workers, hackers, accountants, profilers, medics, ammunition experts and countless others who were part and parcel of the world of crime prevention but who had never gone to the police training academy in Templemore. I felt compelled to spend more time with these civilian consultants…
In tandem with this I wanted to write a modern crime series that possessed the atmosphere and creepiness of folk horror. The horror genre has always fascinated me as a medium. All kinds of themes can be explored through the lens of the fantastic, and folk horror gave me the opportunity to examine the effect history has on the present. I wanted to explore the idea that layers of human experience exist all around us, and their reverberations can still be felt…
That the series would be set in Ireland, where I’ve lived for most of my life, was a given… Jessie and Seamus, Terri and Dawn all strutted onto the page as if they belonged there, and before long they were leading me to the mountains of Kerry and a frightening and claustrophobic cave system where awful things had happened…”
(Extracts from the author ‘Acknowledgement’ section at the end of the book)
PROLOGUE – SEPTEMBER 2018
I left his body where I knew it would be found, nestled gently in the tidal mud of the Thames in the shadow of the Tate Modern in Southwark. He had been a strong one, had William, and breaking him had taken skill and patience. In the last moments of his life, as I brought him to his final crisis, I came to believe we had bonded in a special way, he and I.
I almost loved him, at the end. And as I released him after such a long struggle, I think he loved me too.
I felt like Dublin had been waiting for her to return, as if the city had held its breath while she was away. Jessie couldn’t work out whether the thought was comforting or foreboding, and eventually decided it didn’t matter – she had come home for better or worse, and no amount of navel-gazing was going to change that.
“Jessie, regardless of the emotional upheaval she was in, still loved a mystery. And she had a sense this was going to be an interesting one”
“Jessie took a deep breath and felt an internal trip switch clicking into place. The side of Jessie Boyle that could see into the dark places, the aspect of herself that saw the shadows others did not want to name, slowly shook itself into wakefulness. She both loved and loathed this version of herself”
“Hush, my son. Bravery isn’t about not being afraid. It’s about being scared out of your wits but doing what has to be done anyway”
“Life had taught her that words were cheap – it was how you acted that mattered”
“Will she ever see her family again?”
Wow! What an explosive start to a brand new series and whilst this book works perfectly well as a stand alone story, if you think I am about to miss out on the chance to follow Jessie, Seamus, Terri and Dawn, as this brand new team gets up and running; you must be joking, just try and stop me!
To reveal too much about this gripping, interesting and unique storyline, would undoubtedly reveal far too many spoilers, so just to whet your appetite…
Dawn is Police Commissioner for Ireland and she has been tasked with rescuing Penny O’Dwyer, the kidnapped daughter of a high profile politician, before the deadline of Halloween when her captors are going to kill her. Following initial investigations by local forces and with leads in short supply, Dawn gathers around her, a small and specialised team, led by her one time friend Jessie Boyle, now a successful Criminal Behavioural Specialist. Jessie, who has just buried her recently murdered life and work partner, William, back on the English mainland, is not really ready to return to work, but can see the advantages of packing up and restarting her life back in her mother country and away from all the bad memories, although she knows that William’s killer is still taunting her and haunting her every waking moment and will continue to do so until they are captured. Besides which, Dawn is calling in a favour, which, should the secret ever leak out, will undoubtedly cost both of them their careers and probably their freedom!
Once the team gets up and running, it soon becomes apparent that Penny is not the good all round girl next door, that everyone believes her to be. The company she keeps is far from salubrious, the extra-curricula deals she does are barely legal and her captors truly believe in the Irish myth and folklore they have built around themselves to disguise and possibly justify to themselves, their nefarious activities. The suspects are many, leading Jessie and the team to uncover a labyrinth of human suffering, which transcends their collective wildest imaginations and spans decades. The abductor quotes from a fantasy fiction book when making their demands and although their many protegees might just be expendable, does their mentor face the same fate, or will they live to fight another battle?
Filled with dread and menace, this multi-layered, well structured storyline, is gritty, intense, highly textured and rich in atmosphere. Told in short, well signposted chapters, which all begin with a short quote or reflection by a selection of notorious and infamous murderers and abductors. Multi-timeline, there are short flashbacks by the four principal characters, as they introduce themselves and perceptively place into cameo, important moments from their lives, offering insights into the individual mind spaces they occupy today. The suspects are many, the twists and turns in the suspenseful storyline just keep on coming and red herrings plague Jessie’s every waking hour. Fluently written and totally immersive, with a keen and honed observational eye for detail, the powerful narrative and dialogue offers great visual depth and a genuine sense of time and place. The locations are real, are easy to explore virtually and never having visited Ireland, the ‘armchair traveller’ in me was left completely sated, if with a slightly disturbing feeling of having been buried alive amongst the claustrophobic intensity of the myth, legend and folklore of the area, which is blended seamlessly into the storyline.
Shane Dunphy has created a cast of well drawn central characters, in Dawn, Jessie, Terri and Seamus, who whilst all from different backgrounds, are linked by a common trait, that of being damaged as children, albeit in separate ways. One has personally experienced the child social care system from the inside, two have been the victims of parental abuse and violence, whilst the other has had to face the premature death of a much-loved parent. All individual experiences, but each resulting in the same common feeling of loss and mental fragility, which still haunts them now, even in later life. Right now, despite being totally focussed on their careers and undoubtedly top notch in their individual areas of expertise, they still show signs of complex and raw emotional vulnerabilities. However this never makes them unreliable, but only adds to their authenticity and determination, making them easy to connect to and identify with. The vibrant synergy between them, makes them compelling and adds strength to the common voice with which they tell their story, discovering a comforting sense of ‘belonging’, as they work together to develop ideas and strategies to solve the crime. There is so much scope for the development of these characters in upcoming storylines, both individually and as a team and I have a feeling that they are destined to grow from strength to strength.
In this debut episode of the series, the remaining, bit part characters, are all pretty much as Shane probably intended them to be, despicable, unreliable, totally unlikable, duplicitous and manipulative. I even began to wonder if the victim, whose life hangs so precariously in the balance, is really worth all the effort and danger she puts the team through, in their efforts to save her. That she is not at all the ‘bright young thing’ she is lauded as by her father and some of her colleagues, becomes only too obvious when the company she keeps in her private life and the ‘alternative’ business dealings she conducts, are thrown into sharp relief by Dawn and her team!
This book works a treat if you are in the market for an outstanding, stand alone crime story, however, as with so many other great detective series, there is one important loose thread from this story, which I have no doubt will come back to haunt the team again and again in forthcoming episodes, especially Jessie, for whom this unfinished business is intensely personal. I have my nagging suspicions about the true identity of Uruz, but my lips are sealed, as I have made bad judgement calls before, so I am just hoping that patience will prove to be the virtue it is claimed to be!
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!