The Confession – Jo Spain


The Confession is published on 11 January 2018 by Quercus and is available to buy here

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. It looks like Harry’s many sins – corruption, greed, betrayal – have finally caught up with him.

An hour later the intruder, JP Carney, hands himself in, confessing to the assault. The police have a victim, a suspect in custody and an eye-witness account, but Julie remains troubled.

Has Carney’s surrender really been driven by a guilty conscience or is this confession the first calculated move in a deadly game?


My thoughts

The Confession is a psychological thriller coming from Jo Spain, in January 2018. It is an Irish tale of marital disharmony, dysfunctional families and murder.

The story follows three individuals; the banker, his spouse and his murderer. We also hear from the investigating officer on the murder case, the very tenacious Alice Moody. The banker is Harry McNamara, a man who made a packet from wheeling and dealing before the economic down-turn. Harry is the kind of man, who escapes fraud charges and walks away with a smile on his face. He is married to Julie, an alcoholic teacher. One day, a man calmly walks into his house and clobbers him to death with a golf club. The story follows the history of the three as they move towards this point in time. Why was Harry killed? Was this just a random killing or did the killer have a motive?

I was most fascinated by the history of Ireland and its economic ups and downs. This is where the story shines and comes into its own. We really get an understanding of what it is like to be poor and rich in this unique country; two extreme situations. From Harry we see what it was like to live the high life and to float on the wave of optimism, prior to the global crash of 2008. From J. P. and from Julie, we get a more everyday perspective on life in Ireland.

I enjoyed the odd relationship between Harry and Julie. This is a very dysfunctional marriage. A marriage of unequals held together by longevity and a kind of love. Harry is cast in the role of rich playboy banker, who has little in the way of a conscience and loves splashing the cash. Julie is a teacher from a large Irish family. She seems to have some common sense about her. We see Harry’s influence on Julie, over time. It is sad to see her slow slide into a shadow of herself, as the novel progresses.

What was more of a let down was J. P.’s back-story. It seemed mostly irrelevant. We did not need to know that much about him or his dreadful parents. It could have done with a massive edit and delete. The author was obviously trying to make us feel an ounce of empathy towards him, as his background was full of neglect and abuse. That didn’t work either. This is not the sort of story where you actually feel you like any of the characters or even mind that you don’t.

I felt let down by the ending. I was waiting for an explosive finish. I was promised something special on the last page, which never happened. This is quite an easy tale to predict unfortunately.

This is not a bad story. It is a pretty average psychological read, that takes no time at all to speed through. It kept me reading to the end, to see if the author had any tricks to pull out of the bag. Sadly, she didn’t. Overall, The Confession feels very much like a first novel. It is flawed. It lacks pace and energy. Most readers will be able to guess where it is going. We do get a very real sense of the global economic crisis from an Irish perspective. If you are interested in the history of Ireland from the 1980s to the present day, it will definitely appeal.


About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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