Today it’s my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Little Bird by Sharon Dempsey. Thanks to Sarah Hardy from Bloodhound Books for inviting me to be a part of the tour. I’ll be giving my thoughts on the book in just a moment or two but first, here is that it’s all about.
The Official Book Blurb
An unmissable serial killer thriller
Forensic psychologist, Declan Wells, is dealing with the aftermath of a car bomb during the Troubles in Belfast, which has left him in a wheelchair. But that is only the start of his problems.
Welsh Detective, Anna Cole is running away from a dead-end relationship and the guilt of her mother’s death. She hopes secondment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland will provide a distraction.
There is a killer on the streets targeting young women and leaving behind macabre mementoes to taunt the police.
Can Declan and Anna work together to catch the deranged killer before he strikes again?
And is it ever possible to leave the past behind you?
When a young girl is murdered at her sister’s wedding, it is only the start of the horror in stor for the police. Recently transferred to Belfast on secondment, Anna Cole is keen to get her teeth into this case, a horrific and tragic murder in which the victim has links to the police department. Alongside her DCI Thomas King, Anna faces a desperate race to find a merciless killer as more bodies are found. There is no clear motive to the attacks, no sexual element to the murders, and so with the help of former pyschologist Declan Wells, Anna sets out to prove that there is more to the murders than meets the eye.
While this is billed as a serial killer thriller, by modern policing standards it only just makes the grade – three murders of young women, albeit in a very short space of time. The murders are both simplistic and yet grotesque in execution, as much as due to the way in which the bodies are staged and the killers calling card as for the act in itself. An that really is unsual and more than a little stomach churning.
And yet, I think that to simply classify this as a serial killer story would not really give you an idea of the whole book. This is not a killer on a rampage, their motivations quite tame in comparison to many with the serial killer moniker. The book takes us on much more of a journey than that, looking at the impact of political and religious division in Northern Ireland, in spite of the Good Friday agreement, and the constant undercurrent of violence and threat that plagues the peace across the city. Everything is poised on a knife edge, rattling both the police and the residents, and Sharon Dempsey does a really good job of capturing this within the story. The violent history is neither overplayed or glossed over, but it does inform a good portion of the story.
Anna Cole is an intriguing character. She takes the transfer not only to escape a failing relationship and her grief at the loss of her adoptive mother, but also to trace her family roots which lie in Northern Ireland. She is focused on work and seemingly very competent but she is not immune to the odd blooper, making a very grave mistake in her personal life which could have implications for the investigation and her safety. I did like her and was able to get behind her, although she carries quite a lot of baggage, some of which did threaten to overtake the story at times.
Declan Wells was another complex character. Injured in a car bomb, he has had to forego his chosen career and take up lecturing students instead. This does not stop him from throwing himself into the investigation, forcing his way in to both that and Anna’s life in the process. It is a very personal case for him but he approaches it with clinical precision. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about him at first. He appears jaded, probably not surprising, but we do see his human side emerge half way through, something which did help me feel greater empathy toward him.
They are supported ably by a colourful collection of secondary characters, from the other police officers in the investigation, particularly DCI King, and also the killer. Although the story predomnantly follows Anna and Declan and their point of view, we are treated to some sections told from the killers perspective. Although they are not specific in naming the killer for the longest time, you do start to build a profile alongside the police investigation, making their identity quite obvious fairly early on. What we are lacking is true motive.
This is a very competent thriller. Despite the subject matter and the sense of jeopardy facing the young women of Belfast, it didn’t feel particularly fast paced. It still flowed well and I finished it in one evening. Certainly there were sections towards the end in which the tension increased, where both Anna’s and Declan’s lives were under threat, but the scenes did play out quite quickly and the ending was wrapped up rather quickly too and perhaps a little too neatly. That said I am very intrigued by the pairing of Cole and Wells and would love to see more from the pair. I’d be very interested to see where Sharon Dempsey took this series next, as they both have great potential.
My thanks to publishers Bloodhound for the advance copy of Little Bird for review. It is available now from the following retailers.
About the Author
Crime writer, Little Bird released July 17 with Bloodhound Books.
Sharon Dempsey is a Belfast based writer of fiction and non-fiction books, with four health books published. She facilitates therapeutic creative writing classes for people affected by cancer and other health challenges and runs a creative writing group for young people, called Young Scribblers, at the Crescent Arts Centre.
Sharon studied Politics and English at Queen’s University and went on to City University, London to do a postgraduate diploma in journalism. She has written for a variety of publications and newspapers, including the Irish Times.
Through the Arts Council NI’s Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP), Sharon was awarded funding, which she used to acquire mentoring from, bestselling Irish crime writer, Louise Phillips. Louise was a great support while Sharon was writing Little Bird, her first crime novel.
Make sure to check out some of the other blogs taking part in the tour.