The Darkest Place (Inspector Tom Reynolds #4) by @SpainJoanne #PoliceProcedural @QuercusBooks #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Jo Spain

Performed by Aoife McMahon

Published: September 2018 by Quercus

Category: Crime Fiction, Police procedural, Thriller, Suspense, Audiobook, Review


‘Island of the Lost was the isle’s name long before the hospital was built. In winter, they say the fog falls so heavy there that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Storms rage so forcefully you can be blown from the cliffs. Once St. Christina’s was built, the name took on a new meaning. Very few who went into that place ever left.’

DCI Tom Reynolds is bearing the brunt of a leak to the media implying he had mismanaged an investigation, bringing into question his reputation and his suitability to lead the team. Tom’s boss, the deplorable Chief Superintendent Joe Kennedy, is distinctly lacking in support, working to his own agenda as ever, taking Tom off present murder cases under the guise of letting the fuss die down.  Tom is surprised and annoyed when Kennedy phones him on Christmas Day with a news of a cold case he wants Tom to investigate. A mass grave has been uncovered on Oileán na Coillte, a small island off the coast of Kerry and the site of the now defunct psychiatric hospital, St Christina’s. A body that shouldn’t have been there was found in the grave.

Miriam Howe has been waiting, and living in hope, for the last forty years for Conrad, her husband, to come home. Every Christmas she decorated the house just as it was the day he should have returned from his job as one of the senior doctors at St Christina’s. Just in case. Even though in her heart of hearts, she knew. But now a body has been found and reality knocks at the door in the shape of DCI Reynolds. 

Tom wonders if this is another ploy by Joe Kennedy, giving him a case from so long ago, hoping for Tom to fail. The asylum has been closed for a good while and there can’t be many people left to interview. But no, Kennedy is hoping solving such an old case might be to his advantage. Miriam’s brother is a Supreme Court Judge.

‘I know,’ Kennedy said. ‘You’re angry and you’ve every right to be. You’ve put up with a lot these last few months, Tom. And I’ve been giving you lesser cases. You’re entitled to feel pissed off. But look, forty years old or not, this was – is – one of the most high-profile disappearances of the last century. Will you go and talk to Howe’s widow, Miriam? I think that when you meet her, you’ll want to take this on.’

I’m so glad I found Jo Spain’s books, thanks in no small part to Eva (@noveldeelights) The Darkest Place is another excellent instalment in the Tom Reynolds series. This story, like previous ones, highlights deeply shocking practices—a chilling reminder of a not so long ago past, when unwanted family members were shipped off to asylums, sometimes for the flimsiest of reasons. Where the doctors held all the power and patients, who had no way out and no-one to turn to, were subjected to the most horrific so called treatments, as the diary extracts sprinkled throughout the narrative show. Although this is fiction, it is based entirely on fact which makes it all the more horrendous.

The atmosphere of the island and the empty asylum is conveyed with disturbing clarity. The feeling of being isolated, with no wifi, a very hit and miss mobile signal and the weather conditions all add the overall eerie sense of place. There are secrets and lies to sift through, and several suspects with motives. Tom and his team could have no inkling of the wickedness they would uncover. 

Jo Spain has delivered another fast paced, compelling read with some totally unexpected, clever twists, and I loved the ending. As always, Aoife McMahon’s narration, along with her command of the different accents, is superb.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US | Hive 

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 

Sleeping Beauties (An Inspector Tom Reynolds Mystery Book 3) by @SpainJoanne ~ Irish #CrimeFiction #BookReview @QuercusFiction

Author: Jo Spain

Performed by Aoife McMahon

Published by Quercus, released on Audible September 2017

Category: Crime, Murder, Mystery, Audiobook, Book Review

The inspector frowned and examined the earth under the trees. As he scanned the glade, his stomach lurched. One, two, three, four. Five, counting the mound of earth disturbed under the tent. Somebody had cleared the earth of its natural layer and sown their own flowers

In five places

Five graves

A young woman, Fiona Holland, has gone missing from a small Irish village. A search is mounted, but there are whispers. Fiona had a wild reputation. Was she abducted, or has she run away?

A young woman has been reported missing. It’s uncertain whether Fiona Holland decided to leave of her own accord or whether it’s something else entirely. Her mother and sister are certain she wouldn’t have left her baby but in the small rural community Fiona had a reputation. 

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Beneath the Surface (Inspector Tom Reynolds #2) by @SpainJoanne ~ Irish #CrimeFiction #BookReview @QuercusFiction

Author: Jo Spain

Published:June 2017 by Quercus

Category: Irish Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Suspense, Book Review

Did I know it would come to this? That I was playing Russian Roulette? I would give anything to turn back time and to be with my girls. There is no shot at redemption. I am going to die. The gun is in my eye-line as the second bullet is fired. That’s the one that kills me.

Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds and his wife were enjoying a rare long weekend away. As much as Tom loved his granddaughter it would be a blessing to get good nights uninterrupted sleep. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

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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. 

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