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by Andrew Nugent
Headline, October 2008
288 pages
19.99 GBP
ISBN: 0755346351

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Andrew Nugent isnt your common or garden crime writer. Hes a lawyer-turned-monk whos now prior of Glenstal Abbey school in the Republic of Ireland.

And his third book, SOUL MURDER, takes place in St Isidore's, a boys' boarding school in Ireland. A housemaster is found in a dormitory with his throat cut. And when Supt Denis Lennon and Sgt Molly Power from the Garda investigate, they're confronted with a raft of theories as to whether it was a revenge killing, a terrorist attack or a kidnap that went wrong.

It all looks even more confusing when a small boy goes missing. And then Sir Neville Randler, the man who used to live in the castle which the school now occupies is also found with his throat cut. The police then start to uncover a lot of very dark secrets from the past.

Nugent's strength is his dialogue. Chunks of it are laugh-aloud perfect, particularly when he has the boys talking to each other. His writing is elegant and under-stated, and the affection he clearly feels for his setting and many of his characters glitters on the pages. The plot is perfectly serviceable, but as with THE FOUR COURTS MURDER, the first in the series, it's often of secondary interest to the wit and the eclectic cast.

Molly and Lennon are equally charming, and I'm rather fond of their colleague Jim Quilligan, the unconventional art expert from a Traveller background. Mind you, I'm not totally convinced by the accuracy of the police bits these cops seem a bit laidback and a bit too free with information to someone who could be a suspect.

On one level, I was charmed by SOUL MURDER; on another, I felt immensely uneasy about some of what Nugent is espousing. OK, hes a Catholic monk, so maybe I shouldn't be too surprised, but I dislike the way he equates gay sex with everything sordid (villains, abuse victims, pervy schoolteachers).

Your mileage will vary on this book. I enjoyed it a lot, with that one reservation.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, December 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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