After the Fire (Tom Reynolds) by Jo Spain
It's a Friday in July 2017 and Dublin is hot but people are still surprised to see a young woman, obviously in shock and stark naked, walking along the street. Closer inspection showed the burn marks on her body. All she could say was that she couldn't save the baby. There was a serious fire nearby and it's a while before the fire brigade can get into the property: one man is dead. Another body will be found later and there are strong signs that this is arson.
|After the Fire (Tom Reynolds) by Jo Spain|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's number six in the Tom Reynolds series but would read well as a standalone: there's enough back story to bring you up to speed. It's an excellent tale about trafficking and prostitution. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368/9h1m||Date: August 2020|
|External links: Author's website|
If you've been following the series you'll be familiar with many of the characters. Tom Reynolds who was Chief Inspector on the Murder Squad when we last saw him two years ago is now Chief Superintendent of the National Bureau of Crime Investigation and Laura Lennon is Detective Chief Inspector of the Murder Squad. Detective Sergeant Ray Lennon, is, as you will have guessed her husband and they seem to have adjusted well to married life and Laura being in charge at work. Bridget Duffy is running the Drugs Squad and Joe Kennedy, formerly the man in charge, has now been demoted. The arson and murder at 3 Shipping Row is Laura Lennon's first big case and she feels under pressure to perform well.
John and Orla Cusack's marriage is under some strain and has been since their daughter disappeared two years ago. There was a history of drug abuse and John hates to admit it, but he's actually relieved that Nina isn't there. Orla never stops searching for her child: then one night she turns up in their kitchen with few belongings and no explanation.
It looked quite simple if murder and arson can ever be simple: it was Tyanna Volkov's statement that she couldn't save the baby that complicated matters. Where was the baby? He - or she - had to be found without delay: the thought that the child could be trafficked was at the front of everyone's minds.
Joe Kennedy, recently demoted, is now working as a foot soldier on the Murder Squad and whilst Laura Lennon can't stand the man she has to admit that he is providing useful information on gun-running. Tom Reynolds should be on holiday but he's accidentally present when Tyanna is brought to hospital: he's drawn to the case and doesn't seem able to let go, much to Louise's disappointment: his wife had been hoping for a proper holiday.
The story is thought-provoking on the subjects of trafficking and prostitution. Most trafficking is for purposes of forced labour but young women are frequently brought into the sex trade. They begin life in the knowledge that they have a debt to repay: the money has been falsely inflated and there is no way that it will ever be repaid. If the woman attempts to escape she knows that her family at home will be targetted. If all else fails she will be drugged to keep her compliant. It's an area where most criminal money is to be made but one where it's difficult to bring cases to court and secure prosecutions.
Jo Spain brings the situation of the trafficked women to life and walks the tightrope of not underplaying the horror of what is going on whilst still dealing with the trapped women sensitively. She also builds an excellent plot. I havered about who had caused the deaths and had just about everybody pencilled in as the murderer except for the right answer. The clues were all there: I just didn't spot them.
I understand that Tom Reynolds might be taking a sabbatical but that he will be back: I'm looking forward to it and I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
For more on sex-trafficking, we can recommend Cold in Hand by John Harvey, which might have been out for a while, but is still a good one and has one of the great plot twists of all time. Quintin Jardine has had Bob Skinner on the case in A Rush of Blood. Benjamin Black - possibly better-known as Booker-winner John Banville - writes well about crime in Dublin. Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain isn't a Tom Renolds novel, but it is a good read.
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