Published by Allison & Busby,
17 September 2020.
In 1976, at the peak of the Northern Irish Troubles, two
men, members of the Provisional IRA, take a young boy with Down’s syndrome out
into the countryside. He is, they say, a tout, so they shoot him and bury him
in a bog. One of the men, John Fryer, is so overcome with guilt at what he has
done (he could just have put the boy on a boat to England, told him to go away
and not come back) that it affects his mental stability. In particular, he
believes he is haunted by the Moley, a mythical creature believed to pursue
Years later, Fryer is in a mental
hospital, apparently more or less catatonic, and unable to care for himself.
What connection does this have with a young man, Christopher Moore, a failed
artist, son of a Protestant police officer in the RUC who killed himself when
the RUC became the Northern Ireland Police Force, and of a Catholic mother, who
kills his Protestant grandmother, Esther Moore, a bitter angry woman driven, as
many Ulster Protestants were, by hatred of ‘taigs’, their word for Catholics?
We know that it is Christopher
Moore who is the link. He is clearly a psychopath with a desire to create
political chaos across Northern Ireland which is why, after killing Esther
Moore, he leaves a message scrawled on a mirror: Out of Chaos comes Order,
taken from the writings of the anarchist philosopher, Frederick Nietsche. In
order to realise his fantasies of chaos and bloodshed, he springs Fryer from
the mental hospital where he was confined: Fryer is to be the tool whereby
Christopher will achieve the bloody chaos of his fantasies.
Detective Inspector Owen Sheen is
one of two detectives assigned to investigate the killing of Esther Moore.
Sheen is Belfast born but when his brother had been killed by a car bomb while
playing football in the street his father had taken him to London to escape the
toxic environment of Troubles-riven Belfast. Sheen had joined the Met but after
his father’s death he is offered the opportunity to return to Belfast on loan
to the NIPF to head up a new outfit, the Serious Historical Offences Team; he
grasps the opportunity which he hopes will enable him to find out who was
responsible for the car bomb which killed his brother.
Sheen is working on Esther Moore’s
murder with DC Aoife McCusker of the Northern Ireland Police Force. This will
be her first murder case and he has been told to ‘babysit’ her. But Aoife has a
problem. Previously she had had a relationship with a fellow police officer.
There are compromising photographs which could, if ever they became public,
wreck her career. Now she learns that they have come into the possession of
Esther Moore’s other son, Cecil Moore, an alleged former member of the Loyalist
Ulster Defence Association and believed to have links with illegal drugs
traffickers. She knows that if the investigation into Esther Moore’s death
uncovers anything Cecil Moore does not want uncovered; he will use the
photographs as blackmail.
Meanwhile, Christopher Moore’s
plans to create political turmoil in Northern Ireland are taking shape. He is
aiming for the assassination of those politicians of either faction who, after
the Peace Process, have taken part in the rebuilding of the province and have
at the same time done very nicely for themselves. Further plans include the
commission of terrible atrocities. Sheen and Aoife are gradually putting
together the pieces of the puzzle but at the same time they both find
themselves in considerable danger while John Fryer is wrestling with his own
personal demons – will he allow himself to be used by Christopher to create
bloody mayhem or will he in the end achieve some sort of redemption?
This is an extremely well-written
novel although grim and bleak in some places with graphically-written scenes of
Reviewer: Radmila May
Gary Donnelly is a crime and thriller writer from Belfast who lives and works in London. Blood Will Be Born is the first in the DI Owen Sheen Belfast thriller series, published by Allison and Busby in February 2020.The audiobook, published by Isis Publishing Ltd, is spoken by Irish actor Stephen Armstrong. Adrian McKinty, the award-winning author of The Chain, had this to say about the book: "A twisty, violent, cop thriller set in post-conflict Belfast... Brilliant. Gary Donnelly is an exciting new voice in Northern Irish noir."
Gary attended a state comprehensive school in west Belfast, read History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and has lived and worked in London since the late 1990s. In his time, he has been a Belfast cemetery manager, a business conference organiser in the City, a council gardener in Neasdon, and gained a further degree in Psychology, which he teaches in north London. Gary is married to the lovely Sacha and has two children. He can cook up a storm and play a mean guitar (after a few drinks).
Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.