Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton

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Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton

Category: Crime
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: A decently plotted investigation into dead horses and the mysterious deaths of the nuns of the Bon Sauveur convent, but the quality of the writing killed it for me.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 368 Date: October 2015
Publisher: Head of Zeus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781784081331

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A young couple are walking on a cliff-top when they hear a cry of anguish from below, which leads to the discovery of not an injured person but horses – lots of them.

Meanwhile a nun is found dead in a local nursing home. She was old and frail and had a weak heart. Her death was entirely expected. That she should have been penetrated with a small figurine of the Virgin Mary, maybe not so much. As Katie Maguire says: Whenever I hear 'suspicious death' and 'convent' in the same sentence, Francis, I always catch the reek of something rotten.

Fair play – but it did leave me wondering how often Katie heard those two things in the same sentence. I haven't read the previous episodes in the Maguire series so I can't tell. Maybe it's a recurrent theme. I hope not.

As any reader of crime fiction would anticipate the dead horses and the dead nun will eventually become part of the same story, linked in some way. But that's in the future. In the meantime the two investigations will run in tandem. Credit for that at least. Too many crime novels (and more so films and tv) give the impression that a given bunch of coppers only get one case at a time. I'm suspecting that's not the reality.

It's tempting to be flippant and say that shortly after another nun bites the dust. In fact it's too tempting to ignore, the whole style of writing invites flippancy in response. That someone then starts shooting at our leading protagonist female police person for no apparent reason and killing the wrong detective (but doing so quite accurately) doesn't seem out of order.

Cards on the table time: I do not like this book. On the back of it, I am unlikely to read any of the others in the series.

It's a bit of a shame because the plot works. We have a series of murders, with nicely horrible touches, and decent enough motives. We have the Church behaving like the Church. We have nefarious dealings in the world of horse-racing: I'm saying nothing, and tensions between the traveller community and the local police. And because this is Ireland, the local militia have to feature in the what-ifs and maybes.

But the devil is always in the detail and it’s the detail that jarred. Plot devices that were necessary were unrealistic. How many helium balloons (and how much helium) would it take to lift a human body – and would it really be seen by so few people? I know the Irish youth (allegedly) like a drink of a non-school-night out, but just how drunk to you have to be not to notice a body being dumped in the town square fountains? If a woman is pregnant enough not to be able to fit into her jeans, wouldn't the guy who was sleeping with her notice? I know guys can be a bit slow about subtleties like morning sickness and suddenly giving up the booze, but I'm guessing most of them know that if you give up wine and don't eat much you tend to lose weight not put it on? Especially if you've got an artist's eye, especially when you get round to persuading her to model?

If the writing is good enough I will bear any amount of suspension of disbelief. Engage me in that world and I will go with the flow. Unfortunately, I couldn't do it here. Too many things jarred.

Do I really need to know what every single character is wearing that day? Of course, used sparingly it can be short-hand for the type of person we're dealing with. That can work for lesser characters, whose personality might be relevant – but we get the same run-down for even those who (by now) we're supposed to be tuned into and those who will flit through a scene never to be seen again.

I got truly irritated by the use of rank and title. Detective Dooley is always "Detective" Dooley, never just Dooley. Detective Sergeant Ni Nuallán is always that – never just Ni Nuallán, and only rarely Kyna. Maybe the author cannot keep track of his own characters and needs to keep ranks centre stage at first draft, but any decent editor should have cut some of this back by final edition. A personal view obviously : this is the fifth in the series and they're selling well so clearly it doesn't grate on others as much as it does me.

Elsewhere there were inconsistencies that just interrupted any train of thought by leaving me thinking, sorry, what? The breeze was rustling in the trees, but apart from the swishing of passing cars, and the gardái talking to each other, the afternoon was strangely quiet. There's a breeze loud enough to make a noise, there's traffic and there's coppers talking – if this is strangely quiet, I have to wonder what kind of racket you normally get down on the riverside.

Ultimately – there were also just too many convenient deaths. Side plots get cleared up by killing off the people that are making them complicated.

All in all, the best I can say of it is: if you enjoyed the first four, you'll probably enjoy this one. If you've not been near the series to date – I'd probably start with someone else. Start with I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty or Bleed a River Deep (Inspector Devlin Mystery) by Brian McGilloway

Buy Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton at Amazon.com.


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