Anne Bonny #BookReview The Darkest Place by @SpainJoanne 5* Tom Reynolds #4 #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @QuercusBooks Some secrets are meant to stay on the island. . .

The Darkest Place by Jo Spain
Review Copy

Christmas day, and DCI Tom Reynolds receives an alarming call. A mass grave has been discovered on Oileán na Caillte, the island which housed the controversial psychiatric institution St. Christina’s. The hospital has been closed for decades and onsite graves were tragically common. Reynolds thinks his adversarial boss is handing him a cold case to sideline him.

But then it transpires another body has been discovered amongst the dead – one of the doctors who went missing from the hospital in mysterious circumstances forty years ago. He appears to have been brutally murdered.

As events take a sudden turn, nothing can prepare Reynolds and his team for what they are about to discover once they arrive on the island . . .

My Review:

I am a huge fan of Jo Spain and the Tom Reynolds series. The Darkest Place is #4 in the series and by far the BEST so far! It can be read as a standalone; and will still be thoroughly enjoyed for its atmospheric location and dark themes of mental health treatment in the 1970s.

“Forty Years was too long to wait for somebody to come back from the dead”

The novel surrounds a cold case from 40yrs ago. The disappearance of a Doctor at St Christina’s, psychiatric institution on the Island of Oilean Na Caille. His wife Miriam Howe has waited every year with hope, time has literally stood still for this woman. When she receives a phone call from that a body has been discovered and, she may finally lay Conrad to rest.

The novel details the daily life at St Christina’s asylum in 1972. How the patients were often treated as inmates with little or no compassion or humanity. I felt the author had excelled herself with her detailed research into historical mental health abuses and The Darkest Place is as close to accurate as you are going to get!

‘Ireland had the highest number of people lost to asylums per capita, in the entire world’

DCI Tom Reynolds receives the information on Christmas day of the body discovered at the grounds of the asylum. The case then quickly becomes his personal obsession and he pushes family duty aside in the name of justice.

With no DNA match identified and the discovery of a doctor’s diary the case becomes more complex and heavily layered in mental health treatments a stigma.
‘Do not be lured into feeling sympathy for our patients’ – Diary entry

‘How terrifying this place must seem to the vulnerable people who arrive here involuntary’ – Diary entry

A cause of death is identified, and it points to murder. Then a mass grave is discovered, and it blows the case wide open!!!!!
What really happened at St Christina’s all those years ago?

‘Sometimes the patients can get manic’

When you discover some of the mental health crimes/conditions/sins such as homosexuality. You begin to realise how many of societies most vulnerable were systemically and inhumanely incarcerated and experimented upon. . .
‘You would never believe, in the outside world, how little it takes to cross the threshold from there to here’

The novel fully illustrates the bleak and unhappy life that occurred at the asylum. Prison like conditions and staff that pleasure in the discomfort of patients.
Then you discover the basement patients, were the worst cases were held. . .

There is an amazing twist at the end. But this novel really has it all, superb storytelling, deeply layered plot and terrifying accuracy. 5*

Jo Spain

***The Darkest Place is released tomorrow in Ebook format***

My #BlogTour #Review of #TheConfession by @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks #CrimeFiction #NewRelease 5* by @annebonnybook

 *I received an arc via Bookbridgr in return for an honest review*

The Confession by Jo Spain


Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. It looks like Harry’s many sins – corruption, greed, betrayal – have finally caught up with him.

An hour later the intruder, JP Carney, hands himself in, confessing to the assault. The police have a victim, a suspect in custody and an eye-witness account, but Julie remains troubled.

Has Carney’s surrender really been driven by a guilty conscience or is this confession the first calculated move in a deadly game?

My review:

This is one of them novels that has ALL the hype and it is totally and utterly deserved!
As you read the novel your opinions on the individual characters change with every chapter! At times you loathe them and at times you have so much empathy for their plights! I didn’t know if I was coming or going, with regards to the characters, but they are so engrossing, they read right up until the very last page………….

The novel opens with the scene of a barbaric and violent assault on Harry McNamara. As the reader, the scene instantly conjures up a million questions! Why did the killer strike at Harry? What is the motive? Who is the killer?

The pace of the novel then slows a little, as it details the life story of Harry and wife Julie. How they came to be married, what has occurred in Harry’s career and ultimately, why someone may hate him enough, to take a golf club to his head!!!!!

On the other side of the Irish town John Paul Carney (JP) hands him into the police station. He confesses to the crime of murder and the detectives are left baffled at to the reasoning. JP claims to have no vivid memory of the assault and admits that he simply ‘lost it’. But why what is JP’s link to Harry? Why target Harry? One thing is for certain, this was no random attack……..

The novel then details JP’s early life from childhood to adulthood. The poverty, abuse and mistreatment he has endured is laid bare, for all to see. Yet he still sticks to his original story. This continues to frustrate and rile DS Alice Moody, as she becomes convinced of a connection. Does an abusive childhood nurture a future killer?

“Seamie was a shit dad, but everyone knew the system was a cesspit for kids” – JP

JP’s internal dialogue continues to have the reader engaging with his personal story. I started to warm to his character and almost became defensive of this violent killer!!!

“What mad me this way?
I don’t know. Can you ever really know why you are the way you are?” JP

This novel has it all revenge, betrayal, loyalty, honour and unbreakable bonds. With a toxic marriage at its core, I was absolutely hooked on the blame triangle between Harry, Julie and JP.
If you are a fan of the psychological/thriller genre, then you will LOVE this novel! 5*

“Everything about that night had fate, written all over it”

Jo Spain
Authors page

Don’t miss the other blogs on the #BlogTour