Blood Sisters (DS Katie Macguire #5), by Graham Masterton

Eight stars

The gem that is the DS Katie Macguire series has become my latest obsession. Graham Masterton pulls the reader in from the opening pages of each book and presents a horrible crime and then spends the bulk of the story trying to have his protagonist piece it all together. In this novel, DS Macguire not only has a handful of cases to resolve, but also some major developments in her personal life, all of which are sure to come crashing down before her if she cannot bring order to the situation. Strong storytelling matched with wonderful plot twists keep Masterton at the top of his game and provides the reader with a stellar piece of writing.

Detective Sergeant Katie Macguire is still trying to come to terms with having brought her Chief Superintendent down in a flurry of illegal activities, which resonates throughout the Cork community. Paired with a personal revelation that her life is about to change forever, DS Macguire has little time for anything else. Alas, there are some new crimes in the area that beg her attention.

The bodies of many horses are discovered by locals, apparently dumped off a cliff and into the water. Sure that this is more than a freak accident, DS Macguire summons her team to begin looking into it, thinking that this could be a massive case of animal cruelty. Meanwhile, an elderly nun in a nursing home is found dead, which is soon labelled as a murder when she was violated with a small statue. DS Macguire cannot believe who would want to target an elderly nun, but is sure that she’ll use all the resources at her disposal.

When more nuns are found murdered, all from the same convent, DS Macguire begins to see that there might be a pattern here. The convent was once the home for unwed mothers and their babies, which may be a clue to connect the murders. When tiny bones are discovered in the gardens of the convent, DS Macguire begins to see that this could be the work of a former resident, perhaps seeking retribution for something done to her.

All the while, a teenager turns up drowned in a body of water, with ties to a pimp who has been working in Cork for years. DS Macguire has been trying to nail him for prostitution and other crimes for months and this could be her best shot, if she can find the evidence she needs. But all that is shelved when an old flame returns to Cork and hopes to reconnect with her, while DS Macguire holds onto a secret that could change her life forever. Will she tell anyone or harbour this for as long as possible? Masterton does a brilliant job once again with this Irish police procedural.

Many readers likely gather recommendations and sit on them, choosing to allow their “To Be Read” pile to grow high or gather dust. I read some of Graham Masterton’s other work and promised myself that I would get to this Katie Macguire series something soon. I am now kicking myself for waiting so long, as I have not been able to stop reading them. They are so full of action, development, and the type of police work I find highly engaging. Added to that, the gruesomeness of the crimes makes me want to know more and see how Masterton could dream up such happenings. I have only met a few other authors who can write so graphically and yet keep their books strong on the investigative end. Masterton adds great character development, particular to DS Macguire, allowing the reader to feel a connection to the protagonist with each passing chapter. This is a series well worth adding to the pile, but block off some time, as it is addictive.

Masterton provides a stellar storytelling ability and supports it with a clear narrative, as he has throughout the series to date. Things flow with ease, though the reader will likely need breaks to gather themselves, as Masterton does little to filter what goes on in the criminal underworld of Cork and environs. There remains strong character development, building from past novels into the present, particularly with some of the drama DS Katie Macguire has to face, both at home and work. Masterton’s ability to weave plot twists with his climactic revelations makes for an even more exciting piece of writing, which has become a staple of this series. The ‘Irishness’ of the stories transport the reader to the Emerald Isle and make them feel a part of the auction as linguistic twists pepper the dialogue. There is also an underlying theme here, this time the abuse nuns inflicted in their homes for unwed mothers, which adds depth to the overall reading experience. This series is a must read, but should be started with the opening novel, as there are threads best followed from their origin. With a short story next in the series chronology, I am not sure if it will build on the ending here, or branch off into something completely different.

Kudos, Mr. Masterton, as you keep me wondering and wanting more. What a way to spend my summer reading!