Taboo is a fast easy read in the popular mystery genre. Although a little on the short side, it still moved along at a good clip. The story is set in Dublin, Ireland. The main character is an American forensic investigator named Reilly Steele. She has moved to Dublin to live nearer her father who has repatriated back to his home country.
My first criticism lies in the fact that the voice/language is primarily American. The authors made one weak attempt at writing using Irish English and slang. It is one and a half paragraphs that stands out because no where else in the book is it used in relation to the Irish characters. Given that there are many Irish writers out there who are able to write Irish English well (Roddy Doyle anyone?), the authors should have either gone through, rewrote in that voice entirely or gone through and eliminated it entirely. It made no sense to use it in one and half paragraphs and then never touch it again. Even within that limited frame, it was uneven and inconsistent. This is both a writing problem and an editorial problem that should have been caught. The American voice is fine for the one American character but given that everyone else is Irish….
My second criticism also relates to another editing issue. I have found some e-books that are very sloppily edited and this was one of those. Misspelled words, extra words that should have been deleted, missing words that clarify context….whether self-publishing or done through a publishing house, these are things that need to be addressed. They detract the reader from the book and affect the quality. What could be a four or five star review is marred by sloppy editing. Presentation is important and in the computer age with advanced dictionary, spell check and grammar options, good editing has been simplified. Poor editing comes off looking like a poorly written high school creative writing assignment. Unfortunately, only the human eye is able to discern certain errors like context, the correct usage of homonyms etc.
That being said, the story itself is interesting. Murders are being committed based on Freudian psychology and taboos. Matricide, incest, cannibalism – these are some of societies greatest taboos and a murderer is on a rampage in Dublin forcing victims into compromising and taboo situations. Reilly Steele has come to the Irish Guards to lead and train their forensic unit. Not wanting to give anything away to potential readers, she becomes both personally and professionally invested in the case.
This being the first book in the series, we are introduced to what in all likelihood are going to be ongoing characters. Her father, Mike Steele, Pete Kennedy an old school Irish cop who resents Yankee input, Chris Delaney, a more modern partner to Pete and a potential love interest for Reilly. There were various lab geeks and assistants who will be Reilly’s team as well as crusty administrators and political players who either resent her employment or champion her cause.
I would have liked more detailed descriptions of the mean streets and neighborhoods of Dublin. There were also several story ideas introduced but left dangling. I’m sure that given they intend to make this a series, they hope to expand on those in other books but for me, it did more to detract than add to what was a pretty interesting story.
I read somewhere that this is a husband and wife writing team using the name Casey Hill. That may be where the unevenness of the story lies. Good editorial help should be able to iron out these issues and allow the characters to grow. I got this as a Book-Bub bargain. For those that don’t know about it (bookbub.com) you can sign up for free, indicate what e-reader(s) you are using and each day they will send an email with a selection of titles individually curated based on your indicated interests/genres. The price for the books ranges from free to $2.99. I have procured almost 100 books since I started subscribing and been introduced to a wealth of new authors as well as grabbed bargains on authors I already love. Many of the titles are recent – the oldest one I got was a 2011. This author has bookbub to thank directly for my purchase. I probably would not have found them on my own.
A good cup of coffee, rainy day fast read.