Friday, January 17, 2020

Book Review: 'The Dark Web Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Murders #4)' by Brian O'Hare

The Dark Web Murders by Brian O'Hare

Dastardly deeds – and one fine mystery novel!

Irish author Brian O’Hare was Assistant Director of Southern Regional College in Newry in Northern Ireland, writing many articles for educational journals as well as reports for the Department of Education and the University of Ulster. He retired early following a liver transplant to become a highly respected author of fiction. His books to date include A SPIRITUAL ODYSSEY, FALLEN MEN, and the INSPECTOR SHEEHAN MYSTERY series of which this is Book 4, THE DARK WEB MURDERS. 

Brian acknowledges his concern for his readers by offering a very fine cast of characters to help keep the story accessible, a glossary of abbreviations used in the book, and then offers an informational (and atmospheric) Prologue, set in the year 2012 (the story that follows takes place in 2018): ‘It was a soft prison, he had been told. Medium security overall, with low security accommodation for selected prisoners. His friend had tried to sound cheerful but the concern in his eyes was inescapable. The unexpected display of feeling, however, had pleased the boy, despite his dire situation. They hugged, the boy tearful. “I’ll come and see you when I can,” his friend had promised, and again trying to allay fears, he added, “Keep your head down, Kevin. Stay out of trouble and you’ll serve only half your sentence. You’ll be out in three years.” The words carried small comfort now. The young man stared apprehensively through the prison-bus window as Magilligan Prison came into view. He fought panic as his eyes traversed the bleak, lonely landscape, the seeming miles of fences surrounding low, concrete, H-shaped buildings. His breathing began to come in short gasps. Deep breaths, he urged himself. Don’t lose control. The hard men are in the Maze….’

Masterfully written, the complex plot is summarized as follows: ‘I am Nemein. I am emotionally detached from my killings. I am not, therefore, a murderer. I am an instrument of Nemesis, a Punisher.’ This is a theme running through a number of blogs on the Dark Web, written by a serial killer. He is highly intelligent and employs philosophical argument to justify a series of gruesome murders. However, he describes the killings in lurid detail, and with such gloating relish, that he utterly negates his delusion of detachment and reveals himself to be a cold-blooded, narcissistic psychopath. Inspector Sheehan and his team rush headlong down a series of blind alleys in the pursuit of the psychopath, who continues to murder his victims with impunity. He is fiendishly clever, utterly ruthless, and tests Sheehan's famed intuition to the limit. Indeed, Sheehan only learns the truth during a horrific climax when some members of his team experience a most harrowing ‘laceration of the soul’ that they will never be able to forget.’

This is mystery writing of the highest quality by an author who deserves very wide recognition. Highly Recommended.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.