4 out of 4 stars
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“The Dark Web Murders” by Brian O’Hare is an excellent murder mystery set in Northern Ireland. It introduces the reader to a serial killer, a smart policeman and his hard-working crew, and a number of prominent members of the local society. The atmosphere of the novel has a more than just a hint of Agatha Christie, but with a modern twist (as evidenced by the title).
The mystery begins after the brutal murder of a high-profile judge in his home. The crime happens right after a cocktail gathering organized by the judge and everyone who attends the party is a suspect. A number of other horrific murders follow the first one and the circle of suspects expands further. The action takes place in Belfast which is quite refreshing and interesting, as I don’t run across many books that are set there.
What I liked most about the book is the quality of the writing. The language is often rich and sophisticated, but only when necessary. The descriptions are appropriate and without being overwhelming. The dialogue is vivid and rings true to the reader. Some Irish slang is used but not excessively. The pacing of the action is excellent. The story unfolds fast enough to keep the reader engaged, but also slow enough to provide some nice atmosphere and allow for proper character development. In addition, the book has a “cast of characters” list in the beginning to avoid confusion and I found this to be a very good idea in a murder mystery. The ending is exciting, surprising and clever.
My dislikes with the book are very few. I was a little disappointed at the description of the Dark Web. The term is used interchangeably with the very similar term “Deep Web” and even a cursory web search will reveal that those are not quite the same. My second issue is a rather distracting editing error towards the end of the book, where the character named Robinson is incorrectly referred to as “Richardson.” The error is not significant enough to spoil the fun, but given that the author bothered to create a list of characters in the beginning, it should have been avoided.
Ultimately, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars, as the errors are minor and I cannot justify taking off a full star only because of those. It is a high-quality, memorable novel that delivers on its promise. All audiences should be able to enjoy this book, except maybe young adults, due to some rather gruesome paragraphs describing the murder scenes.
The Dark Web Murders
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