Too Close For Comfort – Niamh O’Connor

This is the third DI Jo Birmingham novel by Niamh O’Connor and it is as gritty as the last two and very cleverly weaves into it events clearly inspired by real crime stories, in this case the shocking tactics that one now defunk Sunday tabloid used to get stories.

Amanda Wells, solicitor has been found dead, her body dumped in the mountains in Dublin. Is the person or the place significant – it has echoes of a past case where women have disappeared in the past. One of these women was Ellen, her body never found. But her sister, Liz remembers Ellen to this day and so does Liz’s husband Derek, the man who was implicated in her disappearance some years earlier. But what is the connection of Ellen and Amanda, is it all linked to Derek?

But when something happens in a close community, normally the neighbours rally round. But something does not sit right for Jo Birmingham with this case and the neighbours behave rather strangely. Secrets, lies and past histories come tumbling out. With the past case having a connection to Birmingham, via her husband who was an investigating officer it all seems a bit too close for comfort.

What unfolds over the following pages as the book reaches its climax, is sometimes spot on and at other times, rather woolly and confusing. The inserted chapters in reference to the way the journalist was working to get a story was rather eye opening but at times I could not make the connections to the main plot line – who had killed Amanda Wells and how was it related to Ellen’s disappearance. The character of Jo Birmingham is still strong and she is still trying to find that balance of being a mother, a wife and soon to be Chief Superintendent but Jo is human she has flaws and Niamh O’Connor handles the interaction between Jo and her colleagues and her husband well.  She shows that sometimes one area becomes affected by another in your life, and recognising that is perhaps half the battle. I am not sure whether there is scope for more Jo Birmingham novels, but if you like your crime fiction based in some fact that you can recognise and relate to then this is a good author to pick. A balance of plot, strong characters and their back story to keep you interested.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of Too Close for Comfort for review. I have received all of Niamh O’Connor’s books through the publisher and have enjoyed them. They are book’s that would work well on the screen – especially as they are based on research and much reading and interviewing the author has done in her role as true-crime editor with Ireland’s biggest selling Sunday Newspaper. 

Not so well known in England, and more popular in Ireland, no doubt because of the setting of these novels, I hope more people discover Niamh O’Connor’s writing in time.