Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Book Review - 'Beneath the Surface' by Jo Spain.

A government official is brutally murdered in Leinster House, the seat of Irish parliament, and DI Tom Reynolds leads the investigation into his death.  Ryan Finnegan was renowned for his honesty, integrity and is survived by his wife and newborn baby.  Just who would have the motive to murder such a high-profile man?  In a building full of politicians Tom  and his dedicated team begin trawling through the world of party politics and powerful personas...

Traditionally, politicians are not known as the most honest people in the world.  Corruption, back-handers and personal advancement are nothing new.  But murder? When a printed photo is discovered beside the victim's body, Tom fears a blackmail attempt gone wrong.  But all the research shows Ryan to be a scrupulously honest man, highly unlikely to stoop to such methods.  With the help of team members, Ray and Laura, he begins to unravel the tightly woven secrets contained within the walls of the government building.  With hundreds of guest attending a party on the night of the murder, their work is cut out for them.  One-to-one interviews,  background checks and liaison with An Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) are just part of the investigation.  Tom also has his own family to deal with.  Having to abandon his wife in the middle of a mini-break has not gone down well and his daughter is threatening to move out, along with her baby girl.  Tension in the home is not what he needs in the middle of such a media-frenzied case.

This is the second in Jo Spain's Inspector Tom Reynolds series.  While it is not essential to have read book one, With Our Blessing, Tom's character becomes more endearing with more reading.  The standalone case in this novel is based in the house of Irish government and politics and may be a little difficult to acclimatize to initially.  The author has included a glossary of terms at the beginning of the book to aide with the Gaelic terminology.  The corridors and vast rooms in Leinster House are brought to life with decadent description and the reader can feel the atmosphere in the historic building.  The ins and outs of  government minister duties and ambitions are an  integral part of the narrative as the team wades through potential suspects.  The case needs to handed with meticulous care, as government officials can be a secretive bunch.  Throughout it all, Tom is his usual steady and calm self, always keeping a watchful eye on his team.  Like a throwback to a Nintendo DS game of Professor Layton, old-style detective work and a host of hunches  lead Tom to a thrilling conclusion.  Red herrings,  hidden secrets and unreliable  witnesses all result  in a a classic murder mystery.  There is a lot of political content to be waded through, but no need to panic if this is not your forte.  DI Tom Reynolds is a wonderfully crafted character.  Almost fifty years old, with no airs or graces, he could be a friend to just about any of us.   Jo Spain's writing is smart and astute and flows effortlessly.  There are no high-speed car chases or hovering helicopters, just  some clever detection by a small team of well-led Gardai.  Just like in real life. 

I received a copy of this title, from the publishers, in return for an honest review.
Beneath the Surface is published by Quercus and is available in TPB and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postage and 19% discount, HERE.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:

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