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Crime Fiction

Never Ask The Dead by Gary Donnelly | Blog Tour Review

Eufy6xhWgAM4a0G - Never Ask The Dead by Gary Donnelly | Blog Tour Review

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.

Never Ask The Dead by Gary Donnelly
Published by Allison & Busby Ltd on February 18 2021
Genres: Irish Noir
Pages: 352
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon

When only the dead have the answers, who can tell you the truth?
DI Owen Sheen and DC Aoife McCusker are back working on the reformed Serious Historic Offences Team in Belfast, although the hands-on approach of the chief constable and the political agendas at play are a struggle to manage. And that's before a cryptic message from a retired, and now missing, cop begins to prey on Sheen's mind. The note Tom 'Tucker' Rodgers sent says that they killed his friend, and now they're coming for him.
Sheen and Aoife's search for Tucker and the truth places them on the path of the most highly placed IRA double agent of the Troubles, as well as another man with an old score to settle...

The past always has a way of catching up with us and Don’t Tell the Dead by Gary Donnelly epitomise that notion.  Lace up those Nikes because you’re going to be doing some running! 

Writing is such a labour of love and writing a series is doubly true.  The commitment, the research, and the psyche to get into the head of your characters time and time again requires a special kind of author.  Gary Donnelly has consistently delivered a gritty, raw, and deeply compelling crime series set in the pulsing heart of Ireland.  The atmosphere is catastrophically real, you can almost feel the elements battering you where you stand, the characterisation gets stronger each time we meet these much-loved characters.  Its like watching evolution before your very eyes. 

Donnelly certainly doesn’t take the easy route in Don’t Tell the Dead.  You can feel the pressures that the plot is threatening to crush each protagonist, the timeline doesn’t leave an inch to breathe and his deep and dark narrative creates a deadly web of intrigue with past events being the catalyst that threatens to consume. 

I was very excited to be reunited with DI Sheen and Aoife McClusker.  The book started off on a tense note and never let up until the very end.  It opened leaving you questioning the troubles lingering impact and trying to already connect the dots that Donnelly so expertly had left dotted around.  Something serious is about to go down and its exactly how I love my Crime Fiction books to start; explosive, exciting, and having me scramble for answers even though the question has yet to be posed.  Nothing is so black and white in a Gary Donnelly book. 

Belfast’s past is casting an ever-present shadow.  Serious Offenses Historic Unit.  Multiple different directions lead to a game of cat and mouse.  Buckle in you’re in for a hell of a ride.

The one thing I love about Gary Donnelly’s writing and Don’t Tell the Dead in particular, is that he is a dab hand at creating realistic characters.  DI Sheen isn’t perfect.  Not by a long shot.  He has many flaws and anxieties, but he knows how to do the right thing.  He might be up against the powers that be at times, but he follows his gut and is assertive when needed.  He sometimes dwells on past events, but the important thing is that he doesn’t just move in, he gives himself a shake and tackles the case at hand with all his might and expertise. 

Don’t Ask the dead is brutally Irish.  The inner voice is acerbic and injected with local phrases, humour and most importantly you feel as though you are there.  Donnelly knows how to take risks but time and time again it pays off.  It’s a story about truth, battling injustice and trusting your gut.  This series just keeps getting better and better and I wait on bated breath to see what Gary comes up with next.


2017 07 26 PHOTO 00000290 800x800 - Never Ask The Dead by Gary Donnelly | Blog Tour Review

Gary Donnelly is a crime and thriller writer from Belfast who lives and works in London. BLOOD WILL BE BORNthe first in the DI Owen Sheen Belfast thriller series, was originally published as an e-book to critical acclaim in 2017 and relaunched in trade paperback/e-book by Allison and Busby in February 2020 with the sequel, KILLING IN YOUR NAME, published in August 2020. The third in the series NEVER ASK THE DEAD will hit the shelves in February 2021. Watch Gary speak about his book in this 30 minute televised interview on Novel Ideas for NVTV. The audio books, published by Isis Publishing Ltd, are spoken by Irish actor Stephen Armstrong.

Praise for Gary Donnelly and the DI Sheen series:

‘Brilliant. Gary Donnelly is an exciting new voice in Northern Irish noir.’ Adrian McKinty, the award-winning author of The Chain, had this to say about the book

‘A gripping debut thriller. The story thunders to its bloody conclusion’ Stuart Neville, author of Those We Left Behind

‘Blood Will Be Born is a rare find – a sucker punch to the gut that will also put a tear in your eye. Unflinching but never cynical, twisty but utterly plausible, and full of heart. I loved it. I only wish it didn’t feel so timely’ Catriona McPherson, author of Strangers at the Gate

‘Powerful evocation of a city still under the sway of tribal warfare’ The Times Crime Club

‘This Belfast-set thriller is knuckleduster hard … A page ripper’ Peterborough Telegraph

Gary attended a state comprehensive school in west Belfast, read History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and has lived and worked in London since the late 1990s. In his time he has been a Belfast cemetery manager, a business conference organiser in the City, a council gardener in Neasdon, and gained a further degree in Psychology, which he teaches in north London. Gary is married to the lovely Sacha and has two non-returnable children. He can cook up a storm and play a mean guitar (after a few drinks).

Gary has this to say about his writing: “I always wanted to write a novel and after I enrolled on a course at the City Lit two years ago, the initial outline of BLOOD WILL BE BORN emerged from one of the homework exercises. But the story has been incubating for much longer. I left Belfast 20 years ago but you see it never really left me. The course finished, and I kept writing; on my day off, weekends and while travelling into work. I took the first 3000 words to Crimefest 2016’s Pitch an Agent slot and some top flight agents gave the sample and the synopsis and big thumbs up, which was very encouraging. Enough, in fact, to get up at 5am to write before work, and finish the first draft.”


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