Review: Taboo by Casey Hill

Friday 23 January 2015
Title: Taboo (Reilly Steel, #1)
Author: Casey Hill
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 7th July 2011
Pages: 432
ISBN: 9781849833721
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3/5
Purchase: Amazon
Forensic investigator Riley Steel, Quantico-trained and California-born and bred, imagined Dublin to be a far cry from bustling San Francisco, a sleepy backwater where she can lay past ghosts to rest and start anew.

She's arrived in Ireland to drag the Garda forensics team into the 21st-century plus keep tabs on her Irish-born father who's increasingly seeking solace in the bottle after a past tragedy involving Riley's younger sister, Jess.

But a brutal serial killer soon puts paid to that. A young man and woman are found dead in a hotel room, the gunshot wounds on their naked bodies suggesting a suicide pact. But as Riley and the team dig deeper, and more bodies are discovered, they soon realise that a twisted murderer is at work, one who seeks to upset society's norms in the most sickening way imaginable…

This wasn't originally on my #IrishFictionFortnight TBR but it's the first book in a series I have wanted to read for a long time. I've got a feeling I'll be reading books from Irish authors long after this fortnight is over to complete all these series I've been starting. I was particularly intrigued by Taboo as it is written by husband and wife duo Kevin and Melissa Hill, Melissa being a very successful Women's Fiction author that I've had the pleasure of reading before so I was wondering how successful she would be at turning her hand to crime.

I am fascinated by forensics, and devour shows like CSI, even though the reality is vastly different to what is portrayed in fiction, and I think that's the case with this book as well. Reilly Steel arrives in Dublin to bring the Garda forensics team into the 21st-century, her first impression being that Dublin is very different from the image she had in her head, which I imagine is true of most people who have this generic idea of what Ireland is like. With the book starting with a San Francisco set flashback, and the writing style itself, it did feel very American thriller-ish, which is not a bad thing at all especially as the character herself has Irish roots but is American. Being written by Irish authors though I was perhaps expecting to feel that whilst reading the book. What was also interesting was Reilly's observation at the lack of serious crime in the country, before then going on the hunt for a serial killer, it's perhaps not the most realistic place to set this sort of book then if that's the case?

Certain members of the force, including the two detectives assigned to the case were more than a little apprehensive when they heard about 'Miss America' coming over to Dublin, especially when they saw a picture of a blonde, blue-eyed attractive woman who some of the officers end up fawning over (of course). Her credentials speak for themselves though, trained at the FBI facility in Quantico, with expert knowledge and experience, one of the detectives, Chris Delaney is left wondering how she was lured to Dublin and so was I, portrayed as some sort of Super CSI you'd imagine someone with her supposed talents would be highly sought-after across America. In the beginning many of the characters aside from Reilly were pretty one-dimensional. From the detectives who are somewhat disillusioned with the job, hoping to get off work early but are called to an apparent suicide to the overactive PC who was first on the scene. They were just your typical everyday fictional detectives and it took a while before they started to develop a personality of their own.

Reilly herself was a mildly interesting character, and this is the first book in a series so I guess there's room for improvement and further development. It pains me to continue to be slightly negative but I also felt at times there was too much naivety on the part of some of the officers. The Garda might not have had a state-of-the-art crime lab up until now, but basic common sense regarding forensics was lacking in places and at times it was almost like 'How did they ever solve a crime without Reilly's expertise?' I guess reading this after recently reading some rather brilliant Irish crime fiction left me expecting something more. Is there a saving grace then? Well the storyline itself did have the potential for twists and shocks, but it didn't shock this reader. I find it incredibly difficult to read a book and not compare it to other authors and what it ultimately comes down to is the crime/thriller genre is crowded, massively so and some books just can't compete. It's disappointing because I had high hopes for this book, and was excited at having the whole series to discover. I may read book two to see how things progress.


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