The Confession by Jo Spain Quercus Books January 25th 2018
CONFESSION (noun) A formal statement admitting that one is guilty of a crime
CONFESSION (mass noun) ‘proof of this crime must be established by confession’
JP Carney is guilty. He walks into the million pound property of wealthy bank owner Harry McNamara and in front of his wife Julie methodically, with a golf club, beats Harry to near death.
Julie can only sit and watch, paralysed, unable to act. When Carney finishes, and walks out, Julie calmly goes upstairs changes her soiled trousers before calling the police.
An hour later Carney walks into a police station and confesses to Harry’s murder, claiming the crime was not premeditated and he did not know the identity of his victim.
Detective Alice Moody believes otherwise, how can anyone not know who Harry McNamara is after his fraud trial and subsequent acquittal. Moody is convinced Carney knew exactly what he was doing and is hellbent on discovering the truth.
And so we embark on a novel with so many twists, turns and revelations that will, by the end, leave you quite exhausted!
On top of all that its a novel that examines the choices the characters make, their upbringing and events that have a last effecting on the course of their lives.
Take our murderer, JP Carney. Raised in London by a mother who suffered severe depression and would finally leave, and a father slowly but surely succumbing to alcoholism unable to cope with JP and his younger sister Charlie. When they return to his father’s Irish homeland it is Carney who goes out to earn money, by illegal and legal means, moving into a flat and ultimately raising his sister. He is a loner, unable to connect or rely on others, and in some ways you do feel sorry for him, a victim of the actions of others.
Julie is the polar opposite. Raised in a large Irish family, the first to attend university she meets and marries Harry McNamara, owner of HM Capital, Ireland’s most prominent bank. Julie experiences wealth beyond her wildest dreams, yet finds it hard to adjust, pursing a career as a teacher trying to lead an ordinary life in a surreal and privileged world. But money can’t buy you happiness and Harry is not quite who he seems as Julie begins to find out. I found Julie hugely annoying, each time she discovered another of Harry’s misdemeanours and decided to leave him there was always something that pulled her back. Their codependency is deep and complex yet all prevailing. I am not sure even with all of Harry’s wealth I would have stayed.
Alice Moody is the tenacious detective, not willing to leave a stone unturned, convinced Carney knew exactly what he was doing. I loved that she wasn’t portrayed as your pretty, slim, attractive to men kind of detective, that so many authors plump for. Moody is overweight, has heaps of attitude, yet is respected by those she works with. She was perfect for this role and it is almost a race between her and Julie to discover the reason for Carney’s actions.
Spain cleverly uses the voices of each of the characters so that we see the story from all perspectives. It allowed the emotional turmoil and sheer desperation felt by Julie and Carney in particular to shine through. I felt Spain handled this superbly in what is a complex novel never confusing the reader but allowing them to form their own opinions and come to their own conclusions.
When all the various strands finally come together and the truth is revealed I was quite breathless.
This is a novel that will send you here, there and everywhere, on a veritable roller coaster that never seems to stop. It is brilliant and will definitely one of the books of 2018!
Thank you to Quercus and Hannah Robinson for the proof copy to read and review and for the ever lovely Anne Cater for organising and allowing me to be part of the blog tour
About the author
Jo Spain’s first novel ‘With Our Blessing’ was shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller and was a top ten bestseller in Ireland. Jo has written two further novels featuring DI Tom Reynolds.
Jo has also worked as a party advisor on the economy in the Irish parliament and is now writing full-time. Spain lives in Dublin with her husband and four children.