Morrow, Jan 2003, 23.95, 304 pp.
In Dublin, Trinity College Security Chief Raymond Sloan abets two felons in bypassing the protection afforded to one of Ireland's most precious treasures, the Book of Kells. The thieves take two of the four tomes plus two other priceless books and stuff their insider ally into the hermetically sealed vault so that Raymond dies from suffocation.
Chief Superintendent of Serious Crimes Unit Peter McGarr and his team work the murder investigation, but struggle with the interference of media darling Chief Superintendent Jack Sheard. The condescending Sheard provides news conferences that leave Peter in awkward situations. As the ransom becomes known, Peter believes that The New Druids, a cult that blames that religion for destroying Ireland for over a millennium, is behind the theft and the murder. However, action must occur rather quickly as the group threatens to burn a page every day if they fail to receive the demanded cash.
This exciting police procedural works on several levels. First the obvious theft and murder investigation hooks the reader from the moment Raymond circumvents the security system. Second Peter's personal life is in shambles since the murder of his spouse two years ago seems on the verge of resuscitation due to a reporter and his daughter. Finally, the media comparison of darling Jack vs. pain in the butt Peter is quite a revelation as the former takes care of the press regardless of the impact on the victims while the latter considers the victims, his team, and the case over the journalists. Once again Bartholomew Gill humanizes his key cast so that sub-genre fans open the New Year with a triumph.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner