Those We Left Behind – Stuart Neville

I received an ARC from Netgalley for an honest review

Have you ever read a book that just grabs you and pulls you in right from the start…well if not the read this one!

The first in a new series by Stuart Neville, featuring DCI Serena Flanagan who is returning to work after treatment for breast cancer. One of her old cases is just about to resurface as Ciaran Devine is due for release, seven years since he was locked up, aged 12, for the horrific murder of his foster father. Ciaran and his older brother Thomas were both jailed for the murder with Ciaran insisting that he was solely responsible for the crime. Flanagan had never quite believed his confession. probation officer Paula Cunningham is responsible for helping Ciaran re-enter society.

This is a fantastic opening book to a new series. I really gelled with the main characters and this was more than a police procedural or crime thriller – the writing and descriptions used draw us into a dark tale of the power and control that can exist between siblings. We are drawn to the pain of the boys and the loss of their mother at an early age. We are torn between repulsion for their behaviour and compassion for their circumstances. The scene where Ciaran visits a shop on his release and is completely overwhelmed by the noise, the people and outside life felt so real..I could feel his pain.

We are also drawn into the person life of DCI Flanagan and the impact her treatment has had on her relationships both in her personal and professional life and the very strong pull Ciaran Devine still has on her.

A well deserved five stars and looking forward to the next in the series.

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