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Kat's Review of Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville (Serena Flannigan #1)

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Synopsis: When 12-year-old Ciaran Devine confessed to murdering his foster father it sent shock waves through the nation.

DCI Serena Flanagan, then an ambitious Detective Sergeant, took Ciaran's confession after days spent earning his trust. He hasn’t forgotten the kindness she showed him – in fact, she hasn't left his thoughts in the seven years he’s been locked away.

Probation officer Paula Cunningham, now tasked with helping Ciaran re-enter society, suspects there was more to this case than the police uncovered. Ciaran’s confession saved his brother Thomas from a far lengthier sentence, and Cunningham can see the unnatural hold Thomas still has over his vulnerable younger brother.

When she brings her fears to DCI Flanagan, the years of lies begin to unravel, setting a deadly chain of events in motion.

Kat's Rating: 5/5

My Review: Well, well, well…looks like I’ve been missing out. When I had the opportunity for an early copy of a Stuart Neville book I decided to take it as I haven’t got around to reading his other stuff. It also looks to be the start of a series of books featuring CDI Serena Flannigan so I figured also a good place to start. I am SO glad I made that decision because this book was an absolute corker. Disturbing alright, but a corker all the same.

Serena Flannigan is a bloody fabulous woman. Although a lot of leading women have problems with authority, Serena is not one of them. She just has a huge chip on her shoulder and an attitude the size of a house. I LOVED her from the get go. Paula Cunningham is at the other end of the police spectrum and is a probation officer dealing with newly released prisoners. She was also a great character and seemed like she was constantly teetering on the edge of alcohol! The story centres around two brothers that have spent time in prison for the murder of their Foster Father. Ciaran and Thomas are quite frankly bewildering and disturbing characters to read, it’s also what makes them almost addictive reading.

As Ciaran is released Paula Cunningham is allocated as his probation officer. However, Serena  is pulled into the mix as Paula needs her input on the sort of character Ciaran is. Serena was part of the initial investigation into the murders and as the story progresses we are taken back in time to when she interviewed and investigated both Ciaran and Thomas. The story gets more and more involved and if I’m being honest I really didn’t want to put it down. It keeps building in pace and towards the end I wondered if anybody was going to make it intact.

Stuart Neville is an author that wills tick in my memory now that’s for sure. An absolutely brilliant start to what I hope is an ongoing series. An absolute corker of a book and one that will have you gripped from start to finish! Can’t wait to see what’s next for Serena Flannigan. 

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