#BookReview: The Burning Boy by Nicola White @ViperBooks #TheBurningBoy #damppebbles

“A dead police officer. A murder that no-one wants to solve…

Dublin, 1986. The murder of an off-duty officer in Phoenix Park should have brought down the full power of the Dublin police force. But Kieran Lynch was found in a notorious gay cruising ground, so even as the press revels in the scandal, some of the Murder Squad are reluctant to investigate.

Only Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine are determined to search out the difficult truth, walking the streets of nighttime Dublin to find Kieran’s lovers and friends. But Gina has her own secret that means she must withhold vital evidence. When a fire rips through Temple Bar and another man is killed, she must decide what price she is willing to pay to find a murderer.

A gripping mystery that will keep you hooked until the final page, perfect for readers of Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Tana French and Adrian McKinty.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Burning Boy by Nicola White. The Burning Boy is the third book in the Detective Vincent Swan series and was published by Viper Books on 20th January 2022. I chose to read and review a free copy of The Burning Boy but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Viper Books for sending me a finished copy.

I thoroughly enjoyed the second book in White’s Dublin based detective series, The Rosary Garden, around this time last year. So I was delighted when an unexpected copy of book three in the trilogy, The Burning Boy, landed on the doormat at damppebbles HQ a few weeks ago. Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine really left their mark on me last January so I was keen to be reunited with them and see what tricky new case they had been tasked to solve.

A man’s badly beaten body is found barely alive in a Dublin park. He’s hanging onto life by a thread and that thread is starting to fray. He’s whisked to hospital where he’s identified as Kieran Lynch, a Garda in the local force. Instead of the immediate outcry you would expect from the Garda officers at one of their own nearly being killed, all that surfaces is indifference at the attack. Because Kieran’s badly beaten body was found in a notorious gay hook-up spot and no one, neither his friends nor his colleagues, want to be associated with him. Not even when the hunt for Kieran’s attacker turns into a hunt for his killer. Which means it’s down to Detective Vincent Swan and Detective Gina Considine to fight for their fallen colleague and find out who killed Kieran, and why…

Swan and Considine are a marvellous pairing and I enjoyed spending time with them once again. Both characters have their own secrets and hidden heartache to contend with in The Burning Boy which I felt helped me get to know them better. Coming into this third book I was aware of Swan’s situation, which the author builds on extremely well – fleshing out Swan’s loneliness until my heart broke a little for him – but I was fascinated to find out more about Gina Considine. I don’t feel I really got to know what made her tick in the second book, The Rosary Garden, so I was delighted to discover she plays a key role in this latest instalment.

I love White’s Dublin of the 1980s. It’s funny because I forgot the series is set in the past and I was part way through the book before some key word or phrase reminded me that this isn’t contemporary crime fiction at all. But a beautifully written, vivid historical mystery. The plotline centres around the gay scene in Dublin in the mid-80s. A time when it was illegal to be homosexual, although the Garda – in terms of the book at least – turned a blind eye. There’s tension between the Garda and the gay community throughout the novel. Many of the views are of the time but it all adds up to a very enjoyable reading experience.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Burning Boy is a well-written and intriguing mystery. The pace can be a little slow at times but there is plenty for the reader to get their teeth into, which I appreciated. I feel as though I’m starting to really get to know these characters now so I hope there is more to come (although only time will tell). I loved the ending of this book. It was so unexpected and so utterly devastating – my jaw was on the floor. All in all, another well plotted, well written mystery from a talented author. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Burning Boy. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Burning Boy by Nicola White was published in the UK by Viper Books on 20th January 2022 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Nicola White grew up in Ireland and New York and graduated from Trinity College, Dublin. She lived in London and Belfast before moving to Glasgow to work as a contemporary art curator, moving on to produce arts documentaries for BBC radio and television.

In 2008 she won the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writer Award, and began to publish short stories in a range of journals, anthologies and for broadcast on Radio 4. In 2012 she was Leverhulme Writer in Residence at Edinburgh University.

Her novel, In the Rosary Garden, won the Dundee International Book prize and was shortlisted for the 2014 Deanston (now McIlvanny) Prize. It was selected as one of the four best debuts by Val McDermid ‘New Blood’ panel at the Harrogate crime festival and was one of the Glasgow Herald’s 2014 ‘books of the year’.

She publishes non-fiction with The Dublin Review and has contributed essays to numerous visual art publications, such as the National Galleries of Scotland’s 2014 ‘Generation Reader’.

Nicola currently splits her time between Glasgow and the Highlands, which means she lives mostly on the A9.

#BookReview: The Rosary Garden by Nicola White @ViperBooks #TheRosaryGarden #damppebbles

“It was Ali who found the body of a murdered newborn baby, hidden in the garden of her convent school. In an Ireland riven by battles of religion and reproduction, the case becomes a media sensation, even as the church tries to suppress it. But this is not the first dead baby Ali has found.

For Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine, the pressure to discover the identity of the dead child is little help against a community with secrets to protect. Gina knows all too well how many of Ireland’s girls are forced to make difficult decisions in terrible circumstances, silenced by shame. Is Ali one of those girls? Because what evidence there is, points to Ali herself…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Rosary Garden by Nicola White. The Rosary Garden was published by Viper Books on Thursday 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Rosary Garden. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy of the book.

Nicola White first came to my attention when the first book in her Vincent Swan series – A Famished Heart – was chosen as a #R3COMM3ND3D2020 pick by author Rachel Sargeant. I said then how much that first book appealed to me. So when the opportunity to read this second Vincent Swan Mystery – set in Ireland in the 1980s – arose, I grabbed it with both hands.

Teenage Ali and her friend, Fitz, make a shocking discovery in the garden shed at their convent school. The body of a newborn baby. Detective Vincent Swan of the Murder Squad is called to investigate the grisly scene but because of Ireland’s turbulent history between religion and a woman’s rights, the case becomes an instant media storm. Particularly when it’s discovered that this isn’t the first dead baby Ali has discovered. The nuns are quick to absolve themselves of any blame. Swan struggles to find a link between his suspects and the child. Nothing seems to make any sense and the investigation falters. But someone is hiding a very dark secret. Someone knows what happened to the baby…

The Rosary Garden is a dark, beautifully written, emotional story which kept me turning the pages. It works perfectly well as a standalone. I haven’t read the first book in the series but I didn’t feel I was missing out. I will be rectifying that though and reading A Famished Heart as soon as I can. The author has skilfully managed to bring her reader into the lives of these characters to the point where they felt so very real to me. I watched as Vincent Swan struggled to find a link to the baby, as Ali was caught up in the media frenzy, wrung out by the press who claimed their pound of flesh and then left on her own to pick up the pieces. The way Ali was treated at times was appalling but sadly I feel this is how life was for young women in Ireland (and elsewhere) in the 1980s.

The subject matter isn’t something everyone is going to be comfortable with. The heart-breaking scenes the author paints are made to make the reader think about life for a young unmarried woman in Ireland in the 1980s and she does it with aplomb. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel something, The Rosary Garden is definitely it. The mystery aspect of the book flows steadily from the very beginning and I instantly liked Detective Vincent Swan, who is having his own issues at home, as well as investigating a very emotional and prominent case. The story builds gradually layer by layer and I was on the edge of my seat as the story edged ever closer to the end. And what an ending! It was a perfect fit and very satisfying.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Rosary Garden is a very compelling and beautifully written heart-felt mystery which I devoured quicker than most other reads of late. There was something quite addictive about the characters and their story. You’re never really quite sure who to trust and I really enjoyed that. I would happily pick up another book by this author and I look forward to reading A Famished Heart soon. Recommended.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Rosary Garden. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Rosary Garden by Nicola White was published in the UK by Viper Books on 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Bookshop.org | damppebbles Bookshop.org Shop |

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.