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4.2 out of 5
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All Book Reviews

  • Interesting main character

    This is the second book in the Finnegan Beck series, about a troubled alcoholic detective, set in a small town in Galway, Ireland. The first, Where She Lies, was a solid four star read for me, but this one took me a lot longer to get into, although it did improve in the second half. While not terribly original, the author has created an interesting main character and the mystery did have me intrigued enough to stay up late finishing it. A young woman is found dead in her car in the countryside, her throat slashed, and her baby is missing. Beck and his team discover a range of suspects, including the violent ex, nervous current partner, the brother recently returned from Australia, and the smarmy local supermarket owner, each of whom seem to be hiding a guilty secret. And this is not the first baby to disappear - in 1954 a young boy watches as his mother is taken away to an institution for murdering his baby sister, but her body was never found. Meanwhile in the present, Beck is struggling to stay on the wagon and dodging calls from his ex in Dublin, and his junior partner Claire's marriage is in trouble. Will they put their personal problems aside long enough to solve the heinous crime? My biggest problem here was the overly long, beautifully evocative but ultimately pointless scene-setting descriptive sections at the start of most chapters - at least a page every time. I'd find myself skimming over them to get to the actual story, but that made for a disjointed read as I'd worry I'd missed a clue, so the narrative dragged on and I kept stopping to check Facebook or Goodreads, but felt I should push on as it was an ARC and I did want to know what happened. This reduced in the second half as the tension ramped up. Beck is not a likeable hero - there are more hints this time about traumatic events in his childhood that have left him damaged and difficult, but his renegade behaviour is hard to excuse, even if the suspects he bullies and assaults do have it coming to them. Claire makes a sympathetic counterpoint at least, and her relationship problems help humanise her. The other police characters are not particularly well fleshed out, and Gimball the pathologist, who was entertaining in the first book, is now a petty booze-soaked buffoon. The subplot about the past mystery did add a layer of intrigue, I wasn't sure it was necessary to hide the boy's identity as it's reveal wasn't any kind of surprise, but his story was very sad and I liked the way it was resolved. Then there were various other threads that didn't really go anywhere and felt a bit like padding, like the ridiculous fake-Australian brother - seriously, no one talks like that! (I've lived in Aussie and there are lots of them here in NZ.) On the plus side I didn't guess the killer's identity at all and definitely liked the ending. Overall this was a slightly disappointing follow-up to book one, but I'm keen to continue the series, as Scanlon has great potential as an author if he can curb the overly wordy descriptions and focus on plot and character development. My thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for the ARC which allowed me to give an honest review. The Child Before is available now.

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    4 person found this review helpful

    4 people found this review helpful

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  • Hey, great read!

    I love this book! I read the first one as well. What I really like is the way it drew me in, the atmosphere was amazing and I cried at the ending. I know, I cry easily, but I did. When I finished and put it down I just felt, hey, that was a great read!

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    3 person found this review helpful

    3 people found this review helpful

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Compelling

    Inspector Beck is an unforgettable character. He’s an alcoholic, a bullying, bad boy cop with a simmering but controlled violence. He has the poise and itch of a vigilante. He likes to do things his way and gets away with it. Claire makes her mark too in her personal and professional life. In truth, there are a dire collection of oddballs throughout the novel - an intriguing bunch of misfits. You couldn’t dream them up. I had to keep reminding myself that the novel was set in Ireland as it had a distinctly American flavour in parts (certain words and phrases) I thought Billy Hamilton was a tough type and had the swagger of a cowboy in a western. Was he really the town’s stud? Whoa, were they so desperate? My first impression was the descriptive nature of the writing style, which was skilled with enjoyable imagery. In parts, however, it was overpowering and almost made me lose my grip on the plot or vital details (buildings, searches etc.) Nevertheless, the Irish humour was there, and it was a highly entertaining read. Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture.

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    2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Worth your time

    Well written. Like the style of writing. Good mystery.

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    1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Thrilling Read!

    The Child Before is the second book in the Detective Finnegan series but can be read as a standalone. A police prodecural thriller that will keep you on your toes and will keep you guessing till the final pages. Detective Finnegan is back, this time to solve the murder of a woman who has been found by a local resident whilst on their morning ride through the abandoned village of Kelly’s Forge. What makes this case even worse, is whilst attending the scene, Detective Finnegan notices a baby seat in the vehicle and a bottle of milk lying in the footwell, but there is no baby to be found! As Detective Finnegan dives deeper into the case, it bears a remarkable resemblance to a case from 50 years previously where another baby girl was taken and never found. The first few chapters of the book are told from the past set in the 1954 back to the present day. I always go in with trepidation when this occurs as they can cause some confusion but Michael handles the transition between the two well and they are easily followed with the past being an integral part of the story. Character wise, they were all well written and developed and we are given a good selection as to who the culprit could be. I could not connect with Finnegan though, but this is on me and which is due to not reading the first book in this series. Even though that this can be read as a standalone for me I will need to go back and read the first book to get a better understanding of him. I so vary rarely read a series out of sequence but could not wait as this book appealed to me so much. From my opinion of him though in this book, I think he is a bit rough around the edges with a colourful past but I am sure that I will grow to like him! The setting of Cross Bag, has the perfect mix of eerie and a haunting vibe which really sets the tone of the book perfectly, and was described so well that I felt I was also in the town mixed up in the case. This is the first book I have read from Michael. I enjoyed his style of writing and the short snappy chapters that kept the story moving along at the right pace to a thrilling conclusion. Do I recommend this book: Absolutely! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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    2 person found this review helpful

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