Monday 19 March 2018

Gripping tale of revenge between best friends with unexpected finale

Crime: One Bad Turn, Sinead Crowley, Quercus, €12.74

Author Sinead Crowley. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Author Sinead Crowley. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Breda Brown

One Bad Turn, the third crime novel from Sinead Crowley (right), RTE's arts and media correspondent, focuses on what happens when your once best friend turns into your deadliest enemy. The story centres on Eileen Delaney and Heather Gilmore, two childhood pals who grew up in very different circumstances in 1980s Dublin.

Over the years, the pair keep in touch sporadically as Eileen focuses on caring for her aging father and adored son Alan, while Heather becomes a doctor and marries a high-flying solicitor.

But the friendship comes to an abrupt end when tragedy strikes and Eileen points the finger of blame firmly at Heather. In a desperate act of revenge, Eileen arranges to kidnap Heather's teenage daughter for a few hours, purely so Heather knows what it feels like to lose someone you love. After the kidnapping takes place, Eileen turns up at Heather's GP surgery to tell her what she has done, but, when a gun is produced, chaos ensues.

Sergeant Claire Boyle, attending a routine GP check-up, unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of the hostage crisis and needs to call on all of her tactical training to ensure she, and her baby daughter Anna, get out alive.

This is Crowley's third novel to feature Sergeant Boyle and, in my view, it's her best yet. The plot is extremely well structured and brilliantly paced.

Crowley uses flashback scenes to fill the reader in on Eileen and Heather's back story, eventually revealing why they have ended up as sworn enemies.

The chapters relating to the 1980s are extremely evocative and anyone who grew up in that era will recognise the perfectly captured references to a time when everyone knew that the best place in Dublin to buy Doc Martens was at the back of the Ilac Centre and that the local sports club doubled as a teenage disco venue every Friday night.

Every character, from the sulky self-obsessed millennial to the abusive drunk trying to buy beer in an off-licence, is thoroughly believable. In fact, that's probably the most unnerving aspect about this book.

These are ordinary people living ordinary lives until something happens that drives them to engage in behaviour they would never normally dream of.

It demonstrates how one bad decision can turn life on its head and cause a rippling effect that has devastating consequences.

This book cements Sinead Crowley's status as one of Ireland's best crime writers. She is a skilled story teller who can craft a simple plot into a gripping tale that takes you on a whirlwind journey. The fact that this novel culminates in a totally unexpected ending is an added bonus.

My recommendation? Read it right now.

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