Thursday, 27 June 2013

If I Never See You Again by Niamh O'Connor

A woman is found murdered with her hand severed in an unoccupied apartment complex where our Detective Jo Birmingham is training for her promotion.  What does the severed hand refers to? Why does somebody go to such great lengths to sever the hand? How did somebody gain access to an unoccupied apartment used for training purposes by the police? Jo feels that this is not the murderers first killing and starts looking for other related cases and finds some. Somebody is using a paragraph from Bible to punish people. What did the murdered woman do to be avenged this way? Is a serial killer on the prowl in Dublin?

At the home-front, Jo is in the process of separating from her husband and her relationship with her husband is quite complex. And her husband is her boss and they got separated because Jo decided to have a second child sixteen years after the first child. Her husband didn't want the second child. After the separation he went on to have an affair with his secretary. Now after the birth of the child, he is very much there for the child but his affair has created a distance between them. Now he wants to be back. Jo sometimes feel the need for him but she cannot forgive him the affair, and has a nagging feeling that maybe he was seeing his secretary long before they got separated.  Jo's family dynamics with a one year old baby and Sixteen year old playing truancy and her complex relationship with her husband is interesting. 

In the initial crime scene, Jo picks up some money from the wallet of the dead woman. Can't help wondering what is happening here? It's all so matter of fact, I couldn't help wondering if Jo is one of the cops who has turned bad, more so because I read Simon Kernick's Ultimatum before reading this book, and there is a similar scene where the protagonist is tempted to take money from the Crime Scene. You know we live in hard times, everybody is short of money, take some from somewhere,  where nobody is going to miss kind of argument. Thankfully, our Jo ain't like that. Later it is explained why she picked up the money.

Niamh O'Connor presents an argument against recreational drug use as she points out that this fuels the drug trade which is linked to various other problems including prostitution. The story takes place in Dublin and takes a look into the gangland warfare and drugs- How the organised drug trade creates terror on citizens who want to fight it. There is the case of the journalists whose daughter is kidnapped and returned by the drug-lords as a warning not to publish news. The returned daughter is undergoing psychiatric treatment as she wouldn't talk about what happened to her.  Are these cases related? Like a whodunit the suspicion moves from one key character to another as the truth is finally revealed. I didn't guess the killer and it is a clever mystery all around.

Published in 2010 this is the first book featuring detective Jo Birmingham. A clever mystery!

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