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Sleeping Beauties by Jo Spain @Hannah_Robbo @quercusbooks

October 2, 2017

The inspector frowned and examined the earth under the trees. As he scanned the glade, his stomach lurched. One, two, three, four. Five, counting the mound of earth disturbed under the tent. Somebody had cleared the earth of its natural layer and sown their own flowers

In five places

Five graves

A young woman, Fiona Holland, has gone missing from a small Irish village. A search is mounted, but there are whispers. Fiona had a wild reputation. Was she abducted, or has she run away?

A week later, a gruesome discovery is made in the woods at Ireland’s most scenic beauty spot – the valley of Glendalough. The bodies are all young women who disappeared in recent years. D.I. Tom Reynolds and his team are faced with the toughest case of their careers – a serial killer, who hunts vulnerable women, and holds his victims captive before he ends their lives.

Soon the race is on to find Fiona Holland before it’s too late. . .

If you are a fan of well plotted, decently paced police procedurals, then you will really enjoy this book.

The regular characters of Tom, Ray and Laura are warm and likeable, the newly promoted boss rather less so, and the crimes they have to solve are difficult and gruesome in a way that contrasts beautifully with the sleepy rural Ireland setting of most of this book.

Though there are two previous books involving Tom Reynolds and his team, each works perfectly as a stand-alone and can be read in isolation.

Fiona Holland has gone missing and while the police search for her in the woodlands of Glendalough they make a grim discovery. Five graves, with the bodies of five women are found and it soon becomes apparent that these women were the victims of a serial killer.

The women have a number of things in common; each has the same flowers planted above her grave; each was given the same gift and each had a certain reputation in their locality. After DNA matching, it seems that Fiona’s body was not amongst the dead, and this, along with other evidence, makes the police wonder whether Fiona might yet still be alive.

What helps to make this a fascinating book is the way in which the old fashioned rural setting throws up the kind of prejudices and misogyny that you hope died out years ago. Yet in this setting, these attitudes are not only alive and well but worryingly are present in some parts of the Garda whose actions have sometimes been influenced by the reputations of women who have gone missing, leading to delays in investigations and sometimes they are ignored altogether. This is a terrible indictment of attitudes to women in contemporary society, but sadly rings quite true.

The way in which this plays out is a nice parallel to the interplay between Tom Reynolds and his ‘modern’ ‘progressive’ boss – who is rather more concerned with image than substance and it is therefore satisfying that it is good old fashioned policing that saves the day.

There are some personal sorrows too in the lives of Tom and his wider family and team, and these make for a poignant counterpoint to some of the misogyny elsewhere in the story.

Overall a good and satisfying read.


Sleeping Beauties was published by Quercus on 21st September 2017

Amazon                            Waterstones

About Jo Spain

jo spain

Jo Spain has worked as a party advisor on the economy in the Irish Parliament. Her first novel With Our Blessing was shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in 2015. And went on to be a top ten bestseller in Ireland. Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four children.



From → Crime

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