Reviews by L. J. Roberts


S. A. DUNPHY – Bring Her Home. Boyle and Keneally #1. Bookouture. softcover, 2021. Setting: Contemporary Ireland.

First Sentence: I left his body where I knew it would be found, nestled gently in the tidal mud of the Thames in the shadow of the Tate Modern in Southwark.

   A man known only by the Celtic rune Uruz murders the former professional and personal partner of criminal behaviorist Jessie Boyle and is now stalking her. After retiring from London’s Metropolitan Police, Jessie returns home to Ireland. Her friend, Dawn Wilson, newly appointed Police Commissioner of Ireland, calls in an old debt.

   Penelope (Penny) O’Dwyerhe, the daughter of Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) is gone. The kidnapper threatens to kill her unless the police find her first. They have twelve days. Serial killer Frederick Morgan, imprisoned for life, claims he has the information needed to save Penny, but Jessie is the only one with whom he will negotiate. As Boyle and her team investigate, they learn there is much more to Penny than first thought, and that she is not the only woman who has gone missing.

   There are a lot of threads and characters in this story. There is much to really like, and Dunphy’s voice galvanizes the reader to continue reading. But there are several things which, upon reflection, cause one to pause.

   The book, in some ways, feels introductory, a prologue to the upcoming series while clearly being a story in and of itself. One is introduced to every character, including the secondary ones, with each given a separate chapter detailing their background. As opposed to interfering with the story, the characters are brought to life with even the bad guys given full dimensionality and shades of gray. However, one may wonder at the necessity of this and how many of these characters will reappear in the future.

   The principal police characters: Jessie Boyle, Detective Seamus Keneally, genealogist and IT tech Terri Kehoe, and Dawn Wilson are an interesting, diverse team, each with strengths and weaknesses. They contrast and complement each other and are characters one wants to know. When at risk, the tension is palpable as one doesn’t want any harm to come to them.

   The story includes quite a bit of ancient folklore and references to Celtic artifacts. While germane to the plot, this slows the pace and can lead to confusion with the number of characters who spiral off the person who fashions himself after the folklore character of Uruz. One already knows he will be back.

   Bring Her Home is an exciting read with great characters, occasional good humor, and powerful suspense. The book would have benefited from stronger editing. Even with a satisfactory ending, once one thinks about it, it causes curiosity about the fate of several characters. Book two awaits. It will be interesting to see how things progress.

Rating: Good.