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The Irish Ripper

by Mark Ahern

Rating: ***

The ‘Irish Ripper’; the name given to a serial killer terrorising communities by committing brutal slayings. He leaves no evidence behind and the Garda are clueless. All except one, Detective Garda Sean O’Callaghan who recently returned from leave having received life-changing injuries in a traffic accident. However, it soon becomes clear that the Irish Ripper is not the only one with demons…

The Irish Ripper is a savage read; the crimes are unfiltered and described in sickening detail. Which is exactly what the book promises and it delivers in an uncompromising style. The beginning takes the reader straight into the mind of the Ripper as he perpetrates one of his assaults; we are immediately aware of his thought processes and barbarity. Further along, the third person point of view alters to first person when the Ripper commits his killings and I found this to be really effective. The Ripper is entirely credible as a character and the close perspective gave an additional, chilling layer. I thought these passages were the strongest in the book, Mr Ahern’s writing excels when the prose inhabits the Ripper. His ability to plan and enter his victims’ houses before the final massacre and the hallmarks he leaves behind are so horrifying because they are believable. I thought the crimes and the action in general was well-paced and holds reader interest, if anything, I think there could have been a couple more Ripper atrocities. I also found the discussion of the differences between the minds of organised and disorganised killers fascinating and deeply unnerving.

Sean’s accident and his consequent adaption to life in a wheelchair was sensitively and realistically handled; it gives the reader much food for thought. However, I found him unlikeable. Just when I felt a flicker of sympathy for him, it was soon extinguished by some distasteful facet of his personality. It’s pretty much standard requirement in literature for an investigating officer to be plagued with, and wrestle with his own issues but Sean’s are grubby and he lacks finesse. The arrangement with Billy is sleazy and avoidable and, personally, I don’t know if this sub-plot entirely worked; it could have been introduced in a different way.

There are lots of twists in the book both in regard to the Ripper and to Sean and it certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat especially as you draw to the nail-biting conclusion and despite my concerns with Sean, I can certainly see him heading a series of thrillers in this vein. If you like to be terrified, then The Irish Ripper is well worth a read. Recommended.

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