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Category: Niamh O'Connor

  1. Kat's Review of Blink by Niamh O'Connor (Jo Birmingham #4)

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    Niamh O Connor BlinkMy Rating: 3/5

    Synopsis: A hitman: DI Gavin Sexton is looking into a spate of teenage suicides when he encounters a young girl, paralyzed with locked-in syndrome. Unable to communicate in any other way, she blinks the words: 'I hired a hitman'.

    Was it suicide? Recovering from loss of sight, Sexton's old partner DI Jo Birmingham is keeping her promise to investigate the apparent suicide of Sexton's own wife, Maura. But why does he no longer seem to care?

    Secrets thrive on stigma:  Sexton believes the girl who cannot move has suffered enough. But how far should he go to protect her? And what if Jo discovers an uncomfortable truth?

    Kat's Review: I have always enjoyed this series featuring DI Jo Birmingham, and the last book was left with a potentially great start for the next book. The synopsis also sounded intriguing so I was really keen to get started with the latest instalment in the series. What threw me overall was how little Jo actually featured in this book. I think you would be hard pressed to say 25%! Instead we get to see her colleague Gavin Sexton take more of a central lead along with DS Aishling McConigle.

    The story sounded intriguing, but what frustrated me was the feeling that the general story was very disjointed. There were huge sections on the ‘if’s, buts and maybe’s’ and not enough of everything else. I also managed (don’t know how) to get really confused keeping track of all the teenagers names. This alone, and then coupled with the fact that Jo Birmingham features so little made me feel like this book just didn’t fit.

    I also don’t recall Gavin Sexton being such an idiot! It seemed like he had morphed into a different character in this book and I felt like I was reading somebody’s first (and clumsy) attempt at a series. The book wasn’t a total write off and there are glimmers of O’Connor’s talent as an author. But I felt like the series had made a shift that wasn’t necessary. Overall, and towards the end of the book it seemed to be coming together a little more and my interest was higher than it had been. That said, this was way off the mark for NOC, and I ended up feeling really disappointed.

    I have been a fan of this series, but as I’ve said in previous reviews for her books; I feel like I’m waiting for the brilliance to shine through. Thankfully, the book ended with an insight and (hopefully) the return of Jo back as the lead character (which is as it should be!). I hope that people continue reading this series and don’t base all of her books on this single one as I feel the readers would be missing out. I never like giving books such low star ratings, but I really couldn’t justify any more that this based on this story alone. I can only hope that the next book sees the return of that great writing Niamh O’Connor has produced in the past.

  2. Kat's Review of Too Close for Comfort by Niamh O'Connor (Jo Birmingham #3)

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     Niamh O Connor Too Close For ComfortMy Rating: 4/5

     Niamh O'Connor's new release Too Close for Comfort is the third in a series of books featuring DI Jo Birmingham. I have read the previous two books and enjoyed them and was looking forward to this one. Jo Birmingham is a brilliant character and she does stand out in my mind amongst other female leads in books. I think the reason for this is that she is so normal. She makes some serious mistakes, constantly has to juggle her work and personal life (not always succeeding) and is an ordinary woman doing an extraordinary job. Straight away Niamh O'Connor brings the reader into Jo's world without the need to read the first two books.

    Her writing style is easy to follow and it doesn't take long to get into the story. A woman has been found in an area in the Dublin Mountains. In the past women have disappeared and the area is now known as part of the `vanishing triangle' case. Derek Carpenter lives in Nun's cross, the same area as the latest victim and was the prime suspect in the Vanishing Triangle case. In the very beginning the story gripped me and we saw flashes of somebody who is involved in the press. This will eventually link to the killer later down the line. I think one of the main problems I had with this book was the references to hacking. The crime was interesting but there were numerous links to press hacking; similar to the scandal the General Public have seen with Newspapers in recent months. Niamh O'Connor couldn't have timed it better with the release of this book but I am just tired of hearing about the Leveson enquiry on the news lately, so maybe a similar thread in the book was too much for me?!? Maybe that was why this particular part of the book annoyed me so much.

    Apart from that one minor irritant, it seems that Niamh O'Connor is doing a slow burn with this character and her novels as each of her books is just that little bit better than the last. This story had me questioning everybody at every opportunity. There were plenty of plot twists and at one point there was so much going on I went back to make sure I hadn't missed anything! The characters were strong and believable and one element I like is the constant battle for Jo to make her marriage work with Dan (who also used to be her boss). One other thing that stuck out for me is the lead to the endings of her books. In a strange sort of way they are always brilliant because they have the desired effect of the reader just having to get the next book. I cannot stand loose ends and with numerous characters making reappearances there are more questions than answer with some of them.

    At the moment Niamh O'Connor is maybe not as widely known as she should be. I think her books are hugely under-rated, and although I am yet to be blown away with one of her books, I have a sneaking suspicion one of her future books is going to be the one! Maybe not to everybody's taste but a complex book that will keep you reading. I am now waiting with baited breath for the next instalment as this one was left on a bit of a cliff hanger!

  3. Kat's Review of Taken by Niamh O'Connor (Jo Birmingham #2)

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    Niamh O Connor TakenMy Rating: 4/5

    In February 2011 I read Niamh O'Connor's debut novel and really enjoyed it. I was looking forward to reading the second instalment. We once again meet the feisty Jo Birmingham who as a female DI is one of the few female senior officers in Dublin. She is trying to manage her work as well as her children and being a single parent makes her life that little bit harder. The Model and It-Girl Tara Parker French drives into a petrol station to fill up and runs into the station to pay. She leaves her three year old son Presley in the car, and that is her biggest mistake.

    With Tara's child kidnapped Jo does her best to help with the case. What she can't work out is why Tara doesn't want the public to know he is missing. Before long in true Jo Birmingham style she has forced herself into the middle of the case irrelevant of the consequences. Jo is a character I really liked as although she was feisty she was also human and that means mistakes. It makes her all the more likeable as a character. We also see the return of her colleagues Gavin Sexton, Foxy and her ex-husband (who also happens to be her boss) Dan.

    The story itself is pretty intriguing early on as you get to see the sheer terror of Tara whose child has been snatched. What I didn't realise was that as soon as I was hooked on that part of the story I didn't really come up for air. The book itself isn't too lengthy but has enough substance to make it interesting. The crime element of the story covers pretty much everything with drugs, sex crimes as well as corruption and extortion to name a few. Towards the end it picked up again and I have to say I read the last quarter of the book the quickest. The ending surprised me, but I have to say it leaves the reader really wanting to pick up the next book to find out what happens to the characters.

    There is a lot of crime books and especially new authors about at the moment. Niamh O'Connor will definitely be making it on my `to read' list every year, but has yet to blow me away. It seems she has created a great series with characters that are slowly worming their way into people's minds. Most definitely somebody to watch for the future!

  4. Kat's Review of If I Never See You Again by Niamh O’Connor (Jo Birmingham #1)

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    Niamh O Conner If I never See You AgauinMy Rating: 4/5

    Well, I have to be honest and say I was really surprised. This book was recommended to me via Facebook from somebody who was currently reading this book. I fancied somebody new and realised that it has only taken me a few days to finish this and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I loved the setting in Ireland as it seems lately a lot of crime books I have been reading have been set in London. Niamh's writing is pretty good too. It's an easy to read style, nothing too taxing and complicated but enough to draw interest (nothing worse that reading a book and feeling like you are taking a course in forensic psychology!). Jo Birmingham is a good lead character and her situation is one that is not uncommon, in books or in the real world. She is a typical working mother that has to try and balance work and home. What I really liked about Jo was that she wasn't made as perfect as other characters I have read in the past. Typical lead women do NOT have to be perfect and sometimes (like in the case of this book) it's nice to see them make mistakes and doubt themselves.

    I also loved the other characters that make appearances throughout the story, namely her ex-husband Dan and her colleagues John Foxe (known and Foxy in the book. What a great nickname!) and Gavin Sexton. The story itself is built up in layers which made it more interesting to read, we weren't thrown out of the frying pan and in to the fat. The story is built up as we learn more about each person and the role they play following the discovery of the first body.

     From the perspective of the crimes themselves, this was the area I felt it lacked a little something. Other crime writers are far more descriptive with murder scenes and this book lacked that certain something that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when reading about a murder!

    The killer itself was not somebody I guessed which pleased me a lot (nothing worse than guessing half way through and being right) and although the ending was okay it wasn't the greatest. It felt a little rushed towards the end and amybe a little 'unfinished'. I wouldn't say that the book was perfect and at the moment there is so much competition in this genre that it is very hard to stand out from the crowd. Having said that; this book is certainly a great read, and is a great catalyst for a series featuring Jo Birmingham. Crime itself is relentless wherever you are in the world and her personal life could go either way. Having loved the characters and enjoyed the writing I am looking forward to her second book featuring Jo. I think overall for a debut novel this is a great book and I would recommend it.