Thursday, 11 April 2013

Penance - Dan O'Shea


Penance by Chicago writer Dan O'Shea is one of the fist books from Angry Robot's crime imprint, Exhibit A. It's been a long wait for the first books from Exhibit A, but now they are finally here, and I hope they won't disappoint. Many thanks to Angry Robot Books and Exhibit A for providing me with a review copy of Penance.

Dan O'Shea's protagonist, Chicago police detective John Lynch, is a good, honest man in a city known for corruption and vice. The murder of an old woman, shot on the doorsteps of her church just as she was leaving from her confession first looks like a revenge killing for a business deal gone wrong. Her son, a rich and ruthless businessman with plenty of enemies, had pissed off the mafia, which could be a motive for a revenge killing. But when John Lynch finds evidence linking the murder of his father back in the 1970s to his present day case, all hell breaks loose.

I expected a classic crime book with a detective fighting crime by asking a lot of hard questions with the occasional swig off from the bottle. Instead I got secret government organisations, cover ups, snipers and mayhem. I was grinning like a toddler on Christmas.

There is a lot to like about Penance: a protagonist you can sympathise with, and even like, a solid, smoothly progressing plot, which starts out slow, but ends with a bang. If anything, there could have been a few more bumps on the road. John Lynch never gets to make any difficult decisions, the kind where beliefs are tested to the limit, nor does he have any inner demons to fight. Likeable, but could have more depth.

Having said that, Penance was easy on the eye, and I will certainly read whatever Dan O'Shea writes next.

Penance weighs in at 416 pages, and is published by Exhibit A. You have to wait until April/May 2013.

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