I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Famished Heart by Nicola White
Published by Viper on February 27 2020
Genres: Mysteries & Detective Stories, Psychological Thriller
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
THEY DID IT TO THEMSELVES
BUT SOMEONE WAS WATCHING
The Macnamara sisters hadn't been seen for months before anyone noticed. It was Father Timoney who finally broke down the door, who saw what had become of them. Berenice was sitting in her armchair, surrounded by religious tracts. Rosaleen had crawled under her own bed, her face frozen in terror. Both had starved themselves to death.
Francesca Macnamara returns to Dublin after decades in the US, to find her family in ruins. Meanwhile, Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine are convinced that there is more to the deaths than suicide. Because what little evidence there is, shows that someone was watching the sisters die...
A Famished Heart is the second book in the Vincent Swan series. It’s set in Dublin in the 1980’s and captures the atmosphere and the times there quite accurately. Before actually picking up this read, I found the synopsis to be extremely thought-provoking. If I’m completely honest, I’ve always found the things people do in the name of religion deeply puzzling. As an atheist it just isn’t on the same wavelength, I can’t put myself into their shoes but, I can try to understand where they are coming from. Unfortunately, the book didn’t gleam that understanding for me.
I’ll openly admit that this is the first book that I have picked up in the Vincent Swan series and I’d happily give book one a try to see if it was just the religious aspect that I didn’t enjoy. If like me, you haven’t read book one, fear not, you can easily pick this one up and follow the story without being up to date in the happenings in the previous book.
Vincent Swan and his crack shot team of detectives are called into an investigation of a woman that appears to have starved herself to death whilst sitting in a chair. My god what a way to go! The local priest, Father Timoney found her and called it into the authorities. It is later discovered that the victim’s sister is also in a similar state cowering under her bed. At this point I did find it strange that the priest would have a set of keys for the sister’s house but then it was the eighties so maybe it was right enough.
I did find A Famished Heart to be very slow going. Until around the fifty per cent mark it just seemed to drag along with not very much happening and then the reader seemed to be bombarded with information in a very small timeframe. We are presented with the narrative that the sisters committed a joint suicide, but Swan feels there is more at play and with a suspension looming over his head he is being pushed towards tying it up by those higher up in the pecking order. Swan and his sidekick, Considine are not those kind of officers. The relationship between these two is probably about the best thing about the story. Great rapport and a willingness to do what’s right, not what’s easy.
A Famished Heart was a solid three star read but it didn’t really hit the mark for me. I needed it to move faster and to give us more. It just felt like it was lacking something more substantial. I enjoyed the characterisation, but the story left me not caring so much about the outcome.
ABOUT NICOLA WHITE
Nicola White won the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award in 2008 and in 2012 was Leverhulme Writer in Residence at Edinburgh University. The Rosary Garden won the Dundee International Book Prize, was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, and selected as one of the four best debuts by Val McDermid at Harrogate. She grew up in Dublin and New York, and now lives in the Scottish Highlands.