HER CHILD’S CRY – (Boyle & Keneally #3)
Little Rosie Blake has been taken. Since going missing from the hospital where she was being treated for cancer, Rosie’s distraught parents haven’t heard a word. And time is swiftly running out. They have to find her, and right away, because Rosie can only survive for ten days without her medication.
With the police unable to find any leads at all, criminal behaviourist Jessie Boyle and her team are brought in to help. Who would be so evil as to steal a sick child? Narrowing down on a suspect, Jessie quickly moves to arrest them, only to discover the suspect’s dead body instead… And with no Rosie in sight, the case becomes even more desperate.
Who killed their chief suspect, and where is Rosie now? And is Rosie’s disappearance linked to the sudden revival of Dublin’s Hellfire Club, an ancient and terrifying cult obsessed with death and human sacrifice?
As the race to find Rosie intensifies, her heartbroken parents know their little girl’s time is running out. The clock is ticking, but Jessie clings on to the hope of finding her safe. Then her search leads her to Ireland’s remote mountains… Will Jessie be able to survive the deadly threat that awaits her, rescue Rosie, and get her back to safety, before it’s too late?
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’.
PROLOGUE – SMOKE AND MIRRORS
“Between 2015 and 2019 a total of one hundred children were abducted in Ireland, one third of whom were taken within the Dublin Metropolitan area. Fifty-six of those children have never been found. Their cases remain open”
Excerpt from report on Child Abduction, compiled by Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, 2019
“I believe that the victim of an abduction can teach you an awful lot about the person who took them”
“The pictures could not have told the story more plainly. Jessie had studied art and play therapy at postgraduate level while working for the London Met and believed it could be a powerful tool in understanding aspects of young people’s lives that they were either unable or unwilling to verbalise”
“He had no time or tolerance for social media. Seamus was one of that rare breed who had never had a Facebook page, had no real concept about what purpose Twitter served and had for a long time thought Instagram was a brand of disposable camera. He was convinced that dating apps were a total waste of time and would always lead to, at best, disappointment, and, at worst, utter humiliation”
“Consider this a gift from me to you. Now you and Jessie share a bond, an experience no one else would understand – she had a loved one killed, and you have killed for a loved one. Either way, you both loved and lost”
“Find her, please find her, before it’s too late.”
Having read the first book in this series, book #2 seems to have somehow slipped through the net, so there I was with book #3, hoping that I hadn’t missed out on any vital backstory in my absence. However, I need not have worried, as author Shane Dunphy filled in any gaps succinctly, without either causing a non-series reader to feel they have missed out on something vital, or a confirmed follower of Jessie Boyle to worry about too much repetition.
However, that’s where all the ‘feel-good’ factor stopped, because from there on out the adrenalin flow went off the scale, I could feel the tension oozing from the pages, and for a person who is not really animal friendly, the fear factor reached melting point at times.
I also established that each of the books in the Boyle and Keneally series, prominently feature elements of Irish myth, folk legend and supernatural horror, woven into the narrative alongside the more conventional elements of traditional crime fiction, so nothing is ever quite as it seems.
Everything begins when…
Young cancer patient, Arizona Rose (Rosie) Blake, is taken from her hospital bed and whilst the identity of the abductor is soon discovered, his motives take much longer to establish, by which time events have moved on apace and he has unwittingly placed Rosie in a life or death situation, from which he is no longer able to keep her safe. To criminal behaviourist, Jessie Boyle and her small team, Rosie’s wealthy parents seem surprisingly calm and detached from events. However, by the time the reason for their strange behaviour is established, one of them can be of no further assistance to police enquiries and the other will be facing the full force of Jessie’s wrath.
A straightforward kidnap and ransom demand this definitely isn’t, as Jessie, Seamus, Dawn and Terri soon discover. For Jessie, her nemesis from the very first occasion I met her and the reason she left the English mainland to return to her Irish homeland, is still taunting and teasing her, although on this occasion, he is surprisingly helpful in guiding her path through the maze of deception, but only because he isn’t done with her yet! As leader of this small unit, Dawn once enjoyed a surprisingly intimate relationship with the least likely of soul mates, a suspect in the case, who is still willing to offer her a few crumbs of information for old times sake. Workaholic, Seamus thinks he might have found his own slice of happiness, although when you are in his line of work, true love never seems to run smoothly. For behind the scenes researcher, Terri, being asked to leave the safety blanket of her office and desk, makes her feel valued, especially when not only is a child’s life at stake, but the team desperately needs another pair of boots on the ground – After this experience though, I think her computer skills might be all the comfort she craves.
The race to find Rosie is numbered in hours rather than days, so when the action moves to a remote Irish island location, the weather closes in and all the local residents seem to be conspiring against you, it pays to keep looking over your shoulder and have good friends to depend on, who will never knowingly let you down! Never mind the animal phobia, I also needed to put my claustrophobia to one side now, and that’s easier said than done!
A rogue operator who is trying to make his name in local gangland activities, sets everything spiralling downwards, making this life or death investigation much more difficult to get a handle on. Myths and legends centuries old, rear their ugly heads once more and a violent sect, for whom suffering, death and sacrifice is second nature and all part of a pre-ordained plan, is resurrected by local aristocracy. An outside member of Dawn’s team is uncovered as someone not to be trusted – And when is a kidnap, not a kidnap?
This fast-paced, multi-faceted, sinister and complex storyline, was thoughtfully broken down into several bite-sized chapters, some of which were narrated by specific characters. The many threads of the story wove themselves together beautifully into a final crescendo which I never saw coming, although as there were so many twists and turns along the way, that was hardly a surprise! Whilst the diverse elements and acts of pagan and occult savagery, which verge on terrorism rather than religious zealotry, take centre stage in the plot, they are carefully crafted to sit in harmony, work with, and never to overshadow, the crime solving outcomes of the case.
This book is an excellent choice, if like myself, you are a confirmed ‘armchair traveller’. So many of the locations mentioned in the storyline are real places, which I could check out for myself, although Shane more than adequately catalogues his own ‘potted’ guide in the “Acknowledgements and some comments from the author” section at the end of the book, which I actually read first, so that I could immerse myself in the in the amazing Irish setting and hit the ground running. The remote island where Terri finds herself captive, and the bothy hidden in the folds of the mountains where Jessie and her fellow officers believe they have made their final stand, are scenes all set with great attention to detail and descriptive qualities which paint a vivid picture, acting as a good foil for the city landscape and the mundane machinery of the authorities.
Shane has created and developed a strong, authentic and addictive core cast of characters, who each have their own strengths and weaknesses, whose individual skills complement one another, who work well as a team and have some excellent synergy and dynamics between them. As with all investigative teams, their personal lives seem to be a cause of constant stress and angst, so whilst Seamus is still trying to balance his professional and personal life and failing dismally with the latter, the three ladies, who are of slightly more mature years, have decided to concentrate on their careers first and foremost. Which camp is the happier with the current situation, is yet to be established conclusively.
Rosie is actually a very astute child, although through the necessity to protect herself, when those around her can’t or won’t, has become quite withdrawn and uncommunicative. However, she finds her own way in which to express herself and release some of the pent up tension and emotion, which fills her young life, and it is this which in no small way, helps Jessie and the team to figure out what is going on in her head and indeed what fate might have befallen her.
This storyline was ably supported by a large touring support team of nefarious complex characters, who only added to the tension and upped the anti, throughout. Dour, disturbed, manipulative and dangerous, didn’t even begin to describe this duplicitous gathering of humanity. Their malevolence knew no bounds, making them totally untrustworthy, unlikeable and impossible to connect with – Just, I suspect, as the author had intended.
What always makes reading such a wonderful experience for me, is that with each and every new book I read, I am taken on a unique and individual journey, by authors who fire my imagination, stir my emotions and stimulate my senses. This story definitely had the power to evoke so many feelings, that I’m sure I won’t have felt the same way about it as the last reader, nor the next. Shane offered me a ticket to hell and back, so thanks for one gut-wrenching journey!
A complimentary kindle download of this book for review, was made available by publisher Bookouture and supplied by NetGalley.
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!
Thank you for taking the time to read my review, I appreciate your support.