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Murder detectives - what are they like? Adam Robert Ryan is now one of them. Here's how he puts it in the opening pages of this tautly paced, reeling mystery: "Humans are feral and ruthless; this, this watching through cool intent eyes and delicately adjusting one factor or another till a man's fundamental instinct for self-preservation cracks, is savagery in its most pure, most polished and most highly evolved form."
Three children wander into a nearby wooded area in 1984 in Dublin, Ireland and only one child emerges, catatonic in silence, remembering nothing but knowing he's wearing a blood-soaked sneaker and has long, deep scratches on one leg. Adam Robert Ryan is sent away to a boarding school for unstated reasons, spends two years doing nothing but relishes that freedom and then enters college to be trained as a policeman. Now, twenty years later, a brutal murder of a young teen in the same Knocknaree site, Detective Rob's memories are subconsciously whirling like the fiery cauldron Macbeth's witches stir as they pronounce their dire prophecies. For double trouble strikes in these pages as Detective Rob and his co-worker, Cassie, begin their gentle but also ruthless investigation into the death of Katy Devlin.
Clues and counter-clues center around an archeological dig site about to be entombed within a sprawling modern highway, Katy's rather odd family, and the emerging relationship between Rob and Cassie. Just how far would a town resident or budding archeologist go to force politicians to move the site of the highway a few thousand feet? Who's hiding some obvious secrets in the Devlin family and then later why does Rosalind Devlin attempt to establish such an intimate connection to Rob?
Tara French is an unusual mystery writer! She knows how to weave interesting, complex characters with a multi-threaded plot and just enough details about the setting to hold the reader's interest on every page. Once you start reading this book, you'll probably be unable to stop. So, as this reviewer did, you'll be skipping meals, staying up into the wee hours of morning, and savoring a well-told great murder mystery with enough psychological thrills to make you hope there'll be another novel written very, very soon by this talented author!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on June 17, 2008