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I've become a fan of Stuart Neville, beginning with the first book in his "Belfast Noir" series, The Ghosts of Belfast.
In the fourth book in this series, The Final Silence, Neville pretty much "retired" his main character, Jack Lennon, and introduced a new one, Detective Chief Inspector Serena Flanagan. In Those We Left Behind, DCI Flanagan becomes the central character.
I wasn't that impressed by Flanagan's first appearance, where she seemed to fill the stock role of "lady cop who has to be a b---- to get by in a police department." However, she is much more fleshed out in this book. She has a maternal side that frequently gets her in trouble. She is also a wife and a mother, and a cancer patient. All of these drag personal issues into her case.
Those We Left Behind centers around two young offenders from early in Flanagan's career. Thomas and Ciaran Devine brutally murdered their foster father and spent the last few years in juvenile detention, but have now been let out as young men. Unfortunately, the elder Devine brother, Thomas, is as crazy as ever, and his younger brother Ciaran is still under his thumb. When the son of the man they murdered comes looking for closure, everything begins to unravel. Flanagan, who always believed something was wrong with the story the brothers gave in their confession, becomes involved, determined to "save" the softer, more vulnerable Ciaran whom she believes took the fall for his older brother.
As in all of Neville's books, there is a lot of gritty noir violence, cops and politicians who are skunks, and one good cop or two trying to do the right thing. Flanagan's superiors keep telling her to butt out of cases she's not assigned to and of course she keeps disobeying them, because of course she's always right when she thinks something is off about the official narrative.
Flanagan becomes a more sympathetic character than Jack Lennon was, but she's not just a woman doing a man's job. Her way of dealing with cases and suspects is different and it is affected by her being a woman and a mother. I found it realistic and well-written, very much like one of those better BBC detective dramas.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
It starts out well. But. I'm getting sick and tired of women being punched for being police/psychologists or whatever.
Won't give too much away but this fits at least one of the below tropes: THE MOST UNNECESSARY TROPE EVER! In all likelihood our protagonist will be saved by a man. Often by the man that didn't believe/like her at first.
1. So she's a police but doesn't close the window by the fire escape? Abducted!
2. So, she's a psychologist and profiler with a great track record but even when her own theory suggests the crazy guy might look for someone JUST like her she fails to see it. Abducted!
3. So, she's a police who care about the juveniles she has to put in prison. Punishment: attacked in her home and husband questioning her job. "We need to think about the children".
4. So, she's known for being a brilliant police but is still questioned every step of the way. Ends up doing a secret investigation and putting her self in danger. Threatened by gun/knife/other weapon. Possibly almost killed.
Please, can someone give advice on crime/triller novels where women are allowed to be brilliant and be punished for it...
3 of 3 people found this review helpful