Performed by Aoife McMahon
Published by Quercus and released on Audible May 2017
Category: Crime Fiction, Murder, Suspense, Audiobook, Book Review
It’s true what they say . . . revenge is sweet.
A baby, minutes old, is forcibly taken from its devastated mother.
The body of an elderly woman is found in a Dublin public park in the depths of winter.
With Our Blessing is set in Dublin and introduces Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds in a very powerful and atmospheric story. The gruesome murder and mutilated body of an elderly woman has been discovered in Phoenix Park and it’s a murder designed to send out a specific message.
Tom and his team are called to the scene and the resulting investigation follows the trail to a convent tucked away in the Irish countryside, where they discover the murdered woman had been the mostly disliked Mother Superior. They also learn that the convent was previously one of the notorious Magdalene Laundries. The more the team uncover the more convinced Tom becomes that the murder relates to the horrific historic events which took place in the convent. The case has taken a disturbing turn, especially for one member of the team.
The convent was an austere and oppressive building, standing three storeys high.
Tom and some members of the team stay at the convent, the others in the nearby village. It’s nearing Christmas and the weather is only getting worse. Ostensibly the nuns offer to help in the investigation but there are decades of untold suspicions and secrets to uncover before events begin to make any kind of sense. The case hits close to home for Tom, keenly aware of his daughter’s situation.
The murder mystery is attention grabbing and is very well laid out. Jo Spain paints a shocking picture of the appalling treatment and conditions women, and in some cases young girls, were subjected to in the Magdalene Laundries and mother and baby homes. It was a very dark period in the not too distant past and hard to believe the Church and State conspired in such practices. This, coupled with a lot of other stuff that’s come to light over the years, continues to have a detrimental impact on the Catholic Church.
Inwardly, he was simmering. The reports into the abuse of children in industrial schools revealed cruelty far in excess of harmless smacks. Broken bones, scaldings, starvation and manslaughter … Tom wondered if the priest would describe that violence as ‘out of context’.
The same accusations were now being levelled against the Magdalene Laundries.