With Our Blessing (Inspector Tom Reynolds #1) by Jo Spain ~ Irish #CrimeFiction #BookReview @SpainJoanne #FridayReads

Author: Jo Spain

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.

I always enjoy getting to know the characters through their home lives and relationships away from work, as well as their working personas. The characters in With Our Blessing are fleshed out distinctly and extremely well, allowing them to become three dimensional, realistic and easy to connect with. DI Tom Reynolds is a likeable and genuine family man, with a good team around him. 

Jo Spain’s writing is self assured and easy to read, the story compelling. The horror of the Laundries depicted without preconceptions, traces of the previous life of the convent giving hints of its chilling history. There are several suspects but the actual perpetrator was a complete surprise. An incredible start to a series, I have the other books already lined up. Aoife McMahon’s narrations are always superb and this was no exception.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US |

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About the Author

Jo Spain is the author of the Inspector Tom Reynolds series. Her first book, top ten bestseller With Our Blessing, was a finalist in the 2015 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller. The Confession her first standalone thriller, was a number one bestseller and translated all over the world.
Jo is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, a former political advisor in the Irish parliament and former vice-chair of InterTrade Ireland business body.
She now writes novels and screenplays full-time. Her first co-written TV show TAKEN DOWN was broadcast in Ireland in 2018 and bought by international distributors Fremantle.
Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four young children. In her spare time (she has four children, there is no spare time really) she likes to read. Her favourite authors include Pierre Lemaitre, Jo Nesbo, Liane Moriarty, Fred Vargas and Louise Penny. She also watches TV detective series and was slightly obsessed with The Bridge, Trapped and The Missing.
Jo thinks up her plots on long runs in the woods. Her husband sleeps with one eye open and all her friends have looked at her strangely since she won her publishing deal.

Author links ~ Facebook | Twitter 

9 thoughts on “With Our Blessing (Inspector Tom Reynolds #1) by Jo Spain ~ Irish #CrimeFiction #BookReview @SpainJoanne #FridayReads

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