Monday, January 8, 2024

Review of 'Malign Intent' by Robert Craven

Garda Inspector P.J. Crowe returns in Malign Intent by Robert Craven (December 2023), a sequel to the crime thriller A Kind of Drowning. As in the previous book, Crowe's career is in tatters, his position in the force uncertain. At the beginning of one shift, he is called to investigate when a body, dressed in outdoor gear, is found swaying from a tree at the edge of a forest.

"You are to close it off as a suicide," his boss, Chief Superintendent O'Suilleabháin, instructs him. "Official, like."

"Suicide, not proven," Crowe replies. For him, 'not proven meant doubt. Doubt implied a crime… He didn't like it, but Crowe had a murder on his hands.' Of this, only he is convinced, so he sets out himself to solve the crime.

Is Crowe up for the mission? His superiors believe he is 'still recovering from an adjustment reaction linked to the circumstances in which he finds himself.' His violent assault and battery escapades in a previous case are well known, leading him to avoid social media and its toxic trolling, but Crowe insists he is "calmer now… less extreme."

"I did what any good cop would do," Crowe reassures a fellow inspector. Solving this murder case is, for him, 'a solid piece of real police work… For the first time in nearly two years, Crowe felt the surge of intent. A reminder to him as to why he became a policeman. To protect the public.'

Malign Intent will appeal to readers who appreciate police procedural crime fiction. Capturing one's attention is the thriller's setting in rural Ireland. Ireland, with its rutted moonscapes and coastal fogs, and the vanilla and black thunderheads rolling inwards from the sea.

For Crowe, 'every crime has a window of opportunity; a golden few minutes, hours, and days before threads of evidence start to wither and go cold or disperse as life continues on without the dead.'. The long days of Ireland's Atlantic autumnal rains are coming, and the clock is ticking for Crowe to solve the crime. We are partner to his investigation, assured that no matter what its result, we anticipate meeting Crowe again in his future cases.

Robert Craven is an award-winning Irish author of thrilling fiction. His novel, Eagles Hunt Wolves was the winner of the 2021 Firebird Book Award for best Action/Adventure. His other novels include the Eva series (Get Lenin, Zinnman, A Finger of Night, Hollow Point, and Eagles Hunt Wolves); the Steampunk novel The Mandarin Cipher; and the crime thriller A Kind of Drowning. His short stories have been published in three anthologies and he is also a regular reviewer of CDs for the Independent Irish Review Ireland.

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