A Suitable Time for Vengeance, Edmund Bohan

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

THE LOST TAONGA and A SUITABLE TIME FOR VENGEANCE by Edmund Bohan were both entered in the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards, with THE LOST TAONGA making it onto the longlist. Both these books are from Bohan's Inspector O'Rorke series (six and seven respectively), historical crime fiction set in New Zealand in the 1880's. Bohan's is known in his native land as an accomplished biographer and novelist, and singer, having published a range of historical non-fiction as well.

Needless to say in both these novels, the historical aspects are delivered in a comprehensive manner, delivering something that feels very real, and accurate without being too bogged down in detail - very much on the show don't tell side of the equation. The plots are great - exploring aspects of the past from the souveniring of precious artefacts in THE LOST TAONGA through to the impact of boyhood pasts, and politics of the time period. 

Interestingly in THE LOST TAONGA the hero of the piece (Inspector O'Rorke) doesn't make an appearance until a considerable way through the book, and the second book almost reads as a standalone, which actually makes both of these feasible as entry points to the series if you've not read the earlier books.

Definitely a series for fans of historical mystery's, these are well written, well researched and very well balanced between the detail and pace.

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London 1887: a year of Continental anarchist- and American-financed Fenian violence. The suspicious death of Patrick O’Rorke’s boyhood friend Tom O’Brien – the internationally famous tenor known as Tomaso Briani – propels the former colonial detective into dangerous places when he is called on to investigate by both Briani’s mysterious widow, the Contessa di Stephani, and ambitious but devious Detective Chief Inspector Wilson of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch, himself embroiled in the Yard’s own labyrinthine power struggles. As other old friends, enemies and ghosts from O’Rorke’s past in New Zealand, Ireland and America rise up again to haunt him, the alliance of a Fenian cell – led by his former professional rival Declan Burke and his mortal enemy Bogdan Lynskey – threatens his life and the lives of everyone close to him. The fast-moving action takes us from London’s fashionable Belgravia and Kensington to Ireland’s Limerick Town and O’Rorke’s birthplace, before reaching its midnight climax at the highwayman Tibbet’s Corner on Wimbledon Common, where a truth is finally revealed and a mortal shot is fired.

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