Beneath The Surface by Jo Spain

The Blurb On The Back:

“I am going to die.  I cannot stand the thought of leaving my girls, of never seeing them again.  I would give anything to turn back time and stop this.  The gun is in my eye line as the second bullet is fired.  That’s the one that kills me.”

Ryan Finnegan, a high-ranking government official, is brutally slain in Leinster House, the seat of Irish parliament.  Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds and his team are called in to uncover the truth behind the murder.  As the suspects start to rack up, Tom must untangle a web of corruption, sordid secrets and sinister lies.

At first, all the evidence hints at a politically motivated crime, until a surprise discovery takes the investigation in a dramatically different direction.  Suddenly the motive for murder has got a lot more personal … but who benefits the most from Ryan’s death?

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s 2011.  Ireland’s political establishment is rocked when Ryan Finnegan, political adviser to Aidan Blake (the popular Minister for State Resources and Energy Efficiency who’s tipped as a possible future Taoiseach) is shot to death in the basement of Leinster House, the home of the Irish Parliament.  Worse, there’s a pornographic photograph under his body that the killer appears to have missed taking with them.

DI Tom Reynolds is tasked with investigating the crime and the sensitivity means that he and his team are under intense political and media pressure to get a quick result.  Assisted by DS Ray Lennon (still recovering from the emotional events in WITH OUR BLESSING), Reynolds hones in on a controversial Energy Bill that Blake was working on and which Finnegan was known to oppose.  Doing so takes them into the sordid world of political backroom deals, lobbying and local activism and the deeper they dig, the more dirt they find on the political and corporate elite – an elite who will do anything to keep their secrets …

The second in Jo Spain’s TOM REYNOLDS SERIES is an okay crime thriller that looks at the effects of Ireland’s energy policy and politics in general on the forgotten coastal communities but the reveal relies on crucial information being hidden until the final chapters and there’s a soap opera element to the story (notably the family set-up of some of the characters) that was a bit too melodramatic for my tastes.  I liked Tom Reynolds as a detective hero – a dedicated family man, I believed in the relationship with his wife and the situation with his single mum daughter gave him some emotional bite – and I also liked the fact that he was willing to listen to his superiors without running off to play the maverick rule-breaker.  Ray Lennon was less interesting to me, partly because I haven’t read WITH OUT BLESSING so wasn’t familiar with the storyline but also because the inevitable romance developing with DS Laura Brennan had a soap opera vibe to it that I didn’t care about.  The mystery itself rattled along fine until the final chapters when Spain suddenly reveals information previously unmentioned (which I thought a cheap trick) and the ending dripped with melodrama that made me roll my eyes.  Ultimately, it wasn’t a bad book and I kept turning the pages but I won’t rush to read the preceding book.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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