Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery #Horror The Coven Murders by @brianohare26

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Coven Murders by Brian O’Hare

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My review:

Thanks to the author for providing me an ARC copy of the novel that I freely chose to review.

I read and reviewed a previous novel in this series (The 11:05 Murders. The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 2) some time back and really enjoyed the cast of characters (it was refreshing to see a team of the police working together and not full of corrupt individuals for whom solving a mystery is the last thing in their agendas) and the well-built plot, full of twists and turns.

The author pre-warned me that this was quite a different type of beast and the plot was less standard. If you’ve read the above description you’ll have realised already that is the case. I love horror, but perhaps because I’ve read and watched a lot in the horror genre, it takes a fair bit to scare me. From the genre point of view, although this novel has pretty eerie moments, I did not feel truly scared. It might depend on the readers’ personal beliefs and in how worried they are about Satan and evil powers.

This novel is again written in the third person. Although it is mostly told from Inspector Sheehan’s point of view, some other members of his team get some space as well, and this allows readers to catch up on some their personal developments, and also to get a detailed account of some aspects of the investigation that Sheehan is not directly involved in. I grew very fond of some of the characters in the previous book and I was pleased to see what they’d been up to. Readers who worry about head-hopping don’t need to be concerned in this case, as each individual chapter is solely told from one point of view, and it is clear whose head we are in.

The plot is once more well-constructed and involved, although I did not find it too difficult to spot (or suspect) who the guilty party was, but, in my opinion this novel was a bit different and the emphasis was not on guessing who’d done it. The prologue sets up the story for readers and give us clues that Sheehan’s team are not privy to, and therefore we are at a somewhat unfair advantage. If I had to put it another way, I’d say that ‘the devil is in the detail’ (pun intended). For me, the novel became a process to see how the investigation team would put all the clues together, and also how the different strands and the new and old crimes fitted in. How would an eminently practical team accept what the clues seemed to point at and how would they confront such otherworldly forces?

Once again I think one of the strong points is the team and the interaction between its members (we even get a new member, sort of, and some extra help) and especially the fact that this time the strength of the bond between its members is put to the test in a very extreme way.

I enjoyed the setting of the story in Northern Ireland, the reflections of the text on politic and religious matters there, and I enjoyed meeting two characters who become pivotal to the case and join forces with the depleted team (I understand one of these characters had appeared in book 1 of the series but I have yet to read it).They are stupendous and I hope we’ll meet them again in other books.

The writing is dynamic and flows well, and the intrigue will keep readers turning the pages, although it does not move at neck-breaking pace. There is sufficient detail to allow the readers to easily imagine where things are taking place without slowing the action, and despite the tense moments, there are also plenty of light and humorous interactions that allow us a bit of a break from the tension.

I know that some people do not enjoy books with satanic themes. If that’s the case, you’d better avoid it, although I don’t think one needs to have strong religious beliefs to enjoy the book (I am sure most paranormal readers enjoy the flights of fancy the genre allows without necessarily thinking all the premises are true if any). No matter what one’s position is, the plot requires some suspension of disbelief, and personally, I am not a big fan of blaming the devil for all the ills of the world, but I enjoyed the book and I’m keen on seeing where the next case will take Sheehan and his team.

I recommend it to those who enjoy mysteries, police procedural novels, who are especially interested in a Northern Irish setting, and who are willing to stretch their imagination beyond the usual suspects.

Book description

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.
An Inspector Sheehan Mystery
by Brian O’Hare

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery The Coven Murders by @brianohare26

Today’s team review is from Lilyn, she blogs here http://www.scifiandscary.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Lilyn has been reading The Coven Murders by Brian O’Hare

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I chose to read The Coven Murders because even though it was a mystery, which is not something I often enjoy anymore, there was the promise of a daemonic element to it that made me curious. Having not read any of Brian O’Hare’s previous works in the past, I had no idea what to expect. However, the positive reviews on Goodreads made me hopeful. The setting of Ireland had a lot to do with my decision as well. For the most part, I’m pleased with what I read.Although, as usual, I’d figured out who the killer was within pages of meeting them. I don’t think that’s a failure on the author’s part as much as it is evidence that I read too much.

The Coven Murders was not exactly the right book for me. It is a much better book for someone who is more religiously inclined (and probably also doesn’t read nearly as much horror as I do.) While I do feel like the elements of the coven, its rituals and beliefs, felt real enough, I had trouble taking them seriously. There were several times during the book, with earnest dialogue between characters, that I found myself giggling and scolding myself with a firm “Yep, yep, you’re definitely going to Hell.” Even though the daemonic element is normally one that scares the bejesus out of me, and there was at least one legitimately creepy scene involving the largest casting out I’ve ever read about, I just could not commit myself to suspending disbelief for the book. Which is kind of stupid because if spiritual evil does exist, its probably most honestly described here than it is any of my climbing-on-the-ceiling horrors that I normally read. 

I feel like I was hampered a bit by not reading the previous two books in the series because I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d known the characters a bit better. As it was, I couldn’t really get the rhythm of some of the relationships that had been long established for a good bit of the book, so it felt a bit off. My chief complaint though, and the only one that’s a true criticism of the book rather than an acknowledgement of my own strangeness, is that it felt like all the ‘bad guys’ were blindingly obvious. A good portion of the first half of the read was spent with me mentally yelling at the characters and wondering how in the world a bunch of police could be that obtuse.  I would have liked for there to have been a bit of, well, mystery involved there.

However, by the end of the book I was eager to see everything resolved. Even though it seemed obvious exactly what was going on, I was still interested enough to finish reading it. The story moves along at a nice clip. The detectives seem like a solid assortment of ‘good guys’ (and gals). The charm of the country (as well as its foibles) was obvious and endearing. I had found a certain affection starting to burgeon for a few of the members of the force. The way the book ended, while not a surprise, still managed to make me feel a pang of sadness for one of the unlucky fellows involved with things.

For someone who doesn’t read much traditional horror, but still wants to give themselves a tingle, The Coven Murders would be worth checking out. It’s a nicely-written mystery that is probably nearly perfect for the target audience. Unfortunately, my heathen self wasn’t the target audience. Still, it was a nice read and I don’t regret picking it up.

Book description

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.
An Inspector Sheehan Mystery
by Brian O’Hare

About the author

Brian O’Hare, MA, Ph.D., is a retired assistant director of a large regional college of further and higher education. Married, three children, ten grandchildren, one great grandchild. He plays golf three times a week off a ten handicap and does a lot of voluntary work. Any writing he has previously done was academic…very much restricted to a very specific readership. Several articles in educational journals were followed by a number of book-length reports for the Dept. of Education and the University of Ulster.

Brian O'Hare

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