Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Book Review: The Trafficking Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 5) by Brian O'Hare

Another Formulaic Mystery? Not in this Series!
I’ve read several of the novels in The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries series. One of my favorites was The Occult Murders. But when reading it, I admit to wondering if it signaled an end to the police procedurals that I liked in favor of fantasy. The Trafficking Murders, however, is about as far from make-believe as possible, dealing instead with one of the gut-wrenching realities of our world—human trafficking.
Though no single book could cover all the forms of this horrific crime, author Brian O’Hare obviously did his homework, giving readers a couple of distinct looks into this illicit industry. On the one hand, Alina Balauru travels from a poor farm in Romania in search of a better life, only to be abused and beaten into sexual slavery. On the other, Lin Hui and Cheung Mingzhu come from more prosperous families in China. They, however, succumb to the glitzy life of call girls, held captive there by threats to their lives and their families. And though different on the surface, Inspector Sheehan gets to the heart of these women’s situation when he notes, “No matter how gilded their cages, these girls are victims.”
Though the subject matter is distasteful, the story is presented without grisly details using a vivid literary style that I’ve come to expect from O’Hare. The pace is typical of mysteries as Sheehan and his team systematically peal back the layers of clues and suspects. And there is no lack of suspects. Fortunately, the book provides a list of characters, which I soon bookmarked in my Kindle for easy and often reference. The mystery is engaging. Is there a connection among these victims that seem so different on the surface? Who is the sinister enforcer, the Shadow, who keeps these girls in line? As the police close in, can this individual be stopped before tying up all the remaining loose ends? O’Hare keeps the reader guessing.
A few things occurred in the book that seemed a little too convenient for my tastes. For example, Sheehan and his team decided to pressure a hardened criminal to help solve one of the cases. Not only does their scheme work, but of all the information this individual knew from his years in crime, he gave up the one thing Sheehan wanted. In another scene, when the Shadow couldn’t locate one of the intended victims, he/she tried blackmailing the police to turn over the woman. Other than demented serial killers, are there criminals who openly challenge the police? But while these unlikely occurrences reduced tension a bit, there was still plenty of white-knuckle material from the crimes themselves.
Overall, The Trafficking Murders is another outstanding mystery and without a formula to know where O’Hare is taking his characters next, I’ll just have to wait for the next installment in the series.
I was given a copy of this book by the author. I elected to write this candid review.
See on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZmxBZW
(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

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