Good morning, bookworm, do come in from the mist. Let me give you a cat treat before you unwrap your scarf – you can wield the treat before you so they don’t try and steal your scarf as they do love something long and woolly to play chase with. See? It works like a charm! Now you’ve finished cat wrestling, have a seat by the log burner and wrap your hands around this hot chocolate (it’s never too early for hot chocolate, in my opinion!). I love watching the mist drift by the window, like the ethereal spirit of a book once read and long forgotten. Speaking of atmospheric settings, I’ve been reading Reprobation by Catherine Fearns. Let me tell you all about it.
Here’s the blurb: Are you one of the elect?
Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology–the study of death, judgement, and the destiny ofhumankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.
When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.
Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell. Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.
Here’s a little about the author: Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool. Her novels Reprobation (2018) and Consuming Fire (2019) are published by Crooked Cat and are both Amazon bestsellers. As a music journalist Catherine has written for Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey. Her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Toasted Cheese, Succubus, Here Comes Everyone, Offshoots and Metal Music Studies. She lives in Geneva with her husband and four children, and when she’s not writing or parenting, she plays guitar in a heavy metal band.
Here’s my review: I loved it – the end! I jest, I have so much more to say about this book but I couldn’t hold that in any longer. I think I’ve found a new favourite crime series to add to my favourite authors like Peter James and Angela Marsons. I didn’t just fall in love with this book because I live and work (ordinarily) near Liverpool and have visited Another Place by Anthony Gormley many times but I’d recommend readers check out some photos of the bronze statues which arise eerily from the sea they look out towards to help them imagine coming across a naked, crucified man along that particular beach.
The book is pacey and character-driven, with the lead detective, Darren Swift, fighting with his own imposter syndrome as he returns to Crosby Police Station as the boy who made good since he’s risen through the ranks from where he started. There were times when I echoed the rolling eyes and discomfort of his partner, Colette Quinn, as she feels he’s been overly harsh or argumentative with a witness, almost as if that’s the stereotype he feels he should be. I also liked the Scouse dialect woven into the dialogue which brought the dialogue to life even more for me.
Dr Helen Hope is one of the most interesting characters I’ve come across in a long time; she’s a Calvinist nun who occasionally bends the rules, lectures at a university and is punishing herself for something which happened many years ago. Oh, and she actually quite likes death metal music! She is an expert in eschatology so Swift turns to her for an opinion on aspects of the case involving religious symbolism and quotes. I loved learning about the Calvinist faith and how it differs from other branches of Christianity, and I enjoyed pondering the ideas of predestination.
I don’t want to say any more because I’m on the verge of spoilers here but if you’re looking for a police procedural with a touch of something different, this is the book for you. I have two more books of Catherine Fearns’ to read and review this week and I have very high hopes for them! I’ll tell you more about them next time you come. 4.5 stars from me!
If you like the sound of Reprobation and would like to buy a copy, click on the book image to go to the author’s page on Amazon (I don’t receive anything for providing this link, I’m just being a helpful bookworm). I’m very grateful to the author and Rachel’s Random Resources for the gifted paperback I received in return for my honest opinion.
What’s that sound? Oh heavens, we were so busy making sure the cats didn’t steal your scarf that we forgot to take precautions against the dragons! Yes, I see them – they’re having a right tug of war with one of my scarves and have just disturbed some philosophical books from their considered contemplation in the non-fiction section. I’d better go before they begin to spontaneously self-combust… farewell, bookworm!