Friday, December 22, 2017

A review of Sleeping Dogs by Mark O’Sullivan (2014, Transworld)

Shot three times on an isolated lane, Harry Larkin, head of a criminal family, lies dying in a Dublin hospital. Before slipping into a coma he asks Eveleen, the ward nurse, to find Detective Inspector Leo Woods and to tell him to find his daughter, Whitney. Leo has history with the family, having run Harry as a police informer thirty years ago and had an affair with his wife, Liz. As Harry’s son and his right-hand man vie to take over the dying man’s operations, Leo and his team try to discover who shot him and what has happened to his teenage daughter. The case soon become more murky when a second death is linked to the investigation, as well as a Slovakian and Libyan connection. Dealing with the Larkins was always fraught and this case feels to Leo like an intimate family affair, tinged with an international twist that makes it tricky to decipher.

Sleeping Dogs is the second book in the DI Leo Woods series set in Dublin. In this outing, Leo is forced to revisit his past involvement with a criminal family through an investigation into the death of its patriarch and the disappearance of his daughter. Initially the case seems like it might be relatively straightforward, but it soon becomes clear that there is much more to Harry Larkin’s death than a simple shooting by a rival gang or a family feud, including a couple of international connections. As with the first outing, Sleeping Dogs is an excellent tale with strong characterisation, nicely portrayed social interactions, and an intricate, engaging plot. There’s plenty of backstory of the Larkins and Leo’s past relations, as well as the contemporary lives of the police characters inside and outside work. And the case is an interesting multifaceted puzzle built around a somewhat dysfunctional family who have little trust in the police. The only element that’s somewhat subdued is the sense of place – while located in Dublin there’s little real sense of the city or Ireland more generally and the tale could have been set just about anywhere. Nonetheless, a very fine police procedural.

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