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Sunday 19 November 2023

‘Deceit’ by Casey King

Published by Joffe Books,
23 September 2023.
ISBN: 978-1-83526096-8 (PB)

This novel is the debut of an Irish police officer-turned-crime writer who appears under a pen name. Billed as the first in a series of Dublin thrillers, the author uses her experience as a member of An Garda Síochána to immediate and explicit effect.

Danielle Lewis is third in line to her uncle’s gangster empire. Ten years previously she lost her unborn baby after a shooting. In the same violent incident a member of the Garda was killed, and his widow (Saoirse Kelly, also a member of the police) miscarried. Betrayed for good measure by her husband, Danielle fled to London. At the start of the book she returns to Dublin determined to find out who was responsible for her attempted murder. Despite not having announced her return, Danielle is abducted at the airport – and so begins a complicated series of events.

Given that Jason, Danielle’s former husband and the father of her lost child, is a member of the Flynn gang (the Lewis’s main rivals in Dublin), these complications multiply. It doesn’t help that there are tensions and family secrets within both groups. Neither seems to trust their own side for much of the time, let alone their rivals. Both gangs appear involved in a wide range of crimes, with drugs, people-trafficking, money laundering, stolen machinery and insurance fraud amongst those committed. The appearance of Saoirse Kelly towards the end (I would have liked a little more on her back story) leads to what seems a relatively brusque conclusion, albeit with a twist concerning the role of one of the characters. It’s worth noting that women are pivotal in the plot and are as capable of trading threats and violence as the men. Nobody hesitates to hand out beatings or worse.

It was almost impossible to find people with whom I had any sympathy at all, with the possible exceptions of a couple of prostitutes, and I found that I really couldn’t care less what happened to any of them. But I don’t suppose sympathy is the point given the underworld milieu, and this didn’t affect me wanting to read to the end. The plot holds the attention well, with changing relationships and suspicions of treachery. The pacy dialogue and fast action keeps the book rolling along. If you like your thrillers brutal, with a reasonable quota of sex and full of expletives (more or less always the ‘f’ word), this will be for you. If you do not, then it’s probably best avoided.

As mentioned earlier, the novel is headlined as The Dublin Thrillers Book 1. Given that few of the characters who start Deceit seem alive at the end (killings, attempted or successful, and deaths are a constant presence), I imagine the next in the series will have a lot of new people involved. It will be interesting to see what develops.
Reviewer: David Whittle

 Casey King is a crime writer from Co. Cork. She is represented by London agent, Kate Nash, of Kate Nash Literary Agency. Among her qualifications, Casey has a Diploma in Policing Studies and over twenty years' experience in the Irish Police Force. Casey was recently listed in The Bookseller Magazine's Agent Hotlist for London Book Fair. As a poet, Casey has twice judged Kanturk Arts Festival Poetry Slam and has had two poems commended in the Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Competition. She has been the featured poet at an event for former Fulbright Professor of Poetry, Bradley Strahan, and has read at Limerick's Hunt Museum, and her poetry is published in several anthologies. As a playwright, Casey co-wrote the commercially staged play Catching the Train, and most recently had one of her plays longlisted in 2019 Wexford Literary Festival's Billy Roche International Short Play Award. Her short stories have been published in The Holly Bough, Ireland's Own and The Incubator Journal.


David Whittle is firstly a musician (he is an organist and was Director of Music at Leicester Grammar School for over 30 years) but has always enjoyed crime fiction. This led him to write a biography of the composer Bruce Montgomery who is better known to lovers of crime fiction as Edmund Crispin, about whom he gives talks now and then. He is currently convenor of the Midlands Chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association.

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