12 March 2019

Review: THE LISTENERS, Anthony J. Quinn

  • this edition published by Head of Zeus 2018
  • ISBN 9-781786-696069
  • 309 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon UK)

A new crime series set in the brooding landscape of the Scottish borders from the author of the Celcius Daly series.

Not long out of the fast-track training course at Edinburgh's police college, Detective Sergeant Carla Herron is about to be tested to breaking point.

She's been called to Deepwell psychiatric hospital in the Scottish borders to interview a patient who has confessed to the murder of one of the hospital's psychotherapists. The confession is vividly detailed, but for a man locked in a secure ward and under 24-hour surveillance, it is also utterly impossible.

So why can't the supposedly murdered psychotherapist be contacted? Why are the hospital staff so secretive, so difficult to work with? Why have other Deepwell patients made disturbingly similar confessions over the past year? Against the advice of her superiors, Carla delves deeper into the hospital's past and is plunged into a labyrinth of jealousies, lies and hallucinations.

Struggling to separate fact from fantasy, Carla embarks on a chilling trail through the bleak uplands and dark forests of the Scottish borders, every step taking her closer to a final – deadly – reckoning.

My Take

An interesting read on a number of levels. Carla Herron is not only new to the job, she is a young mother with 2 young children and a husband working from home, and he is not coping.

Her colleague D. I. Morton is a strange fish, silent most of the time, consequently difficult to work with, and with secrets of his own. Carla feels she is not being told the whole story, and then Morton tells her she is doing a good job.

Carla interviews a man at Deepwell Psychiatric Hospital who claims he has murdered several people, and the last psychotherapist he talked to has gone missing. Carla can see that McCrea is convinced he has committed several murders. But how could he? He hasn't left the hospital.

This novel has a very Gothic feel to it and there are many very dark passages, Deepwell is engaged in some peculiar perhaps innovative practices to do with memory, and Carla has difficulty in determining exactly what those practices involve, and indeed who is using them. Staff at the hospital keep telling her to consult others, that they are not at liberty to fully answer her questions.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
Anthony J Quinn was born in 1971 in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and after completing an English degree at Queen's University followed various callings - social worker, organic market gardener, yoga teacher - before finding work as a journalist and author.
Disappeared, his first novel, was picked by the Times and the Daily Mail as one of their books of the year, and was nominated for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. On its US publication it was shortlisted for a Strand Critics Award, as selected by book critics from the Washington Post, the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Guardian.
Quinn works as a reporter in the wilds of County Tyrone. His short stories have been short-listed twice for a Hennessy/New Irish Writing Award. In 2014, he was given an ACES award for literature from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and in 2016 was selected as Northern Ireland Libraries Writer in Residence.
He is represented by Paul Feldstein of the Feldstein Agency. For more information log onto www.anthonyjquinnwriter.com

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