Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review of Crocodile Tears by Mark O’Sullivan (Transworld, 2013)

In the wealthy, seaside suburb of Howth, on the north side of Dublin city, property developer Dermot Brennan has been clubbed to death with a crowbar.  Having only joined the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation a couple of days before, Detective Sergeant Helen Troy is a little anxious about undertaking her first case, especially given her boss DI Leo Woods is still en route home from a holiday break.  Woods is a first rate cop but a wounded soul, disfigured from Bell’s palsy, haunted by a troubled youth, a disastrous marriage, and secondments to Angola and Bosnia.  He makes his way from the airport to the murder scene under instructions from his superintendent to tread carefully as Brennan had been involved in a ghost estate development with a junior minister’s cousin and a bunch of other influential individuals.  The superintendent has also assigned a rookie detective to the case, Ben Murphy, who’s competence and efficiency gets under Woods’ skin.  Given Brennan’s dysfunctional family, his collapsed business interests, and the disenfranchised residents of his unfinished development, there’s no shortage of leads for Woods’ team to follow.

Crocodile Tears is a very nicely written police procedural that has a strong blend of unpicking the mystery surrounding the death of Dermot Brennan, capturing the aftermath of the property crash in Ireland, and charting the interactions and tension between the cops and with the suspects.  O’Sullivan creates vivid characterisation, particularly with respect to the guards, and rather than concentrating on a single cop traces a handful from junior to senior rank, each well penned with a decent back story.  The dialogue and interactions are first rate.  In particular, I thought the first interrogation with Sean Doran, a resident on one of Brennan’s ghost estates, was excellent: all lies, threats, feints, and violence waiting to explode.  For the most part the plot worked well, though I felt it became a little derailed towards the end as it veered towards a more fanciful ending.  Overall, a very promising start to what I assume (and hope) is going to be a series and highly recommended.


5 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Definitely sounds a good start to this series, Rob. Thanks for the review.

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seana graham said...

I just won this in a giveaway, and it does look very good.

TracyK said...

This does sound very good, and I am partial to police procedurals. I like the title too.

Rob Kitchin said...

I think all three of you will enjoy this one.