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The Priest (Mike Mulcahy Series #1)

The Priest (Mike Mulcahy Series #1)

4.4 9
by Gerard O'Donovan

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Now in paperback, a gripping tale steeped in Ireland’s Catholic history—from the most riveting writer to come out of Ireland since John Connolly.

Struggling to find his feet back in Ireland after a lengthy posting with Europol in Spain, drug specialist Mike Mulcahy is plunged into unfamiliar territory when the daughter of a foreign politician


Now in paperback, a gripping tale steeped in Ireland’s Catholic history—from the most riveting writer to come out of Ireland since John Connolly.

Struggling to find his feet back in Ireland after a lengthy posting with Europol in Spain, drug specialist Mike Mulcahy is plunged into unfamiliar territory when the daughter of a foreign politician suffers a horrific sex attack. Dragged into the case against his will, Mulcahy becomes convinced there is a more to it than a random, frenzied sexual assault, especially when he discovers that the weapon used by the attacker to “brand” his victim was a crucifix. But his know-it-all colleagues and politically motivated bosses, eager for a quick, uncontroversial result, ignore his belief that the attack had religious as well as sexual motivations. Sidelined and overruled, Mulcahy sets out on his own parallel investigation. But frustrations abound at every turn—until reporter Siobhan Fallon turns up asking awkward questions. As more young women are attacked, and assault turns to murder, Mulcahy and Fallon are drawn deeper into an uneasy alliance, as each step they take hurtles them ever closer to the monstrous killer known only as The Priest, and a final showdown that’s as explosive as it is unforgettable.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A sadist targets young women in O'Donovan's derivative second novel, a step down from his debut, White Lion, shortlisted for the CWA's Debut Dagger. When Insp. Mike Mulcahy returns to Ireland after a prestigious antinarcotics posting in Madrid, the contacts he made in Spain make him valuable to the police detectives assigned to identify the brute that assaulted Jesica Mellado Salazar, the Spanish interior minister's 16-year-old daughter, who was found in a Dublin road early one morning with severe burns on her genitals. Before the inquiry can make much progress, Jesica's father has her spirited away to recover at home. When the object used to burn her is identified as a gold crucifix, the target of the probe becomes known as "the Priest." As the fiend claims more victims, Mulcahy's love interest, reporter Siobhan Fallon, hypes the Priest as a national menace. The police follow all too familiar procedural lines, while Mulcahy needs to be a more distinctive lead if he's to sustain a series. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"...exciting debut mystery...Expect more from this author since listeners will come to love the male and female leads...[Michael] Kramer's narrative voice is rich and warm, and his pacing is flawlessly keyed to the action of the story. His portrayals of the young female characters are also well done, especially for a narrator with such a deep voice." - AudioFile Magazine

"It is difficult to believe that The Priest is Gerard O'Donovan's first novel, so gripping and assured is it. And, one asks, in crime-writing terms, is Ireland becoming the new Scotland?" - The Times (London)

"Fast-paced, exciting and thrilling, this is an impressive debut." - The Sunday Times (Ireland)

"A sure command of plot and pacing, a lively sense of locale and a quirky sense of character...compelling." - Irish Independent

"In Mike Mulcahy, O'Donovan has created a well-drawn, multi-faceted cop who readers are likely to want to spend more time with in the future...An impressive debut, with a well-placed plot and enough twists to keep the reader interested until the last page." - Sunday Business Post (Ireland)

"An exciting serial-killer thriller...The writing is strong and the Dublin locations are well described and interesting." - Canberra Times (Australia)

"A book that the reader will not want to put down…an outstanding first novel." - Murder by Type

"[A] gripping thriller." - The Buffalo News

"This is a book you want to read right now, so you can later lay claim to bragging rights of having been 'one of O'Donovan's earliest fans.'" - BookPage

"O'Donovan excels at crisp dialogue and descriptions that place the reader in the midst of a city thrust into a faster, nastier new era." - Star Tribune

"O'Donovan nicely balances character and plot...an addictive beginning by an author who is positioning himself as a major talent." - BookReporter.com

Library Journal
This promising series debut introducing Irish detective Mike Mulcahy and journalist Siobhan Fallon by journalist and CWA Debut Dagger short-listed author O'Donovan is as much about sin and hope of redemption as it is about crime. Set in a post-Celtic Tiger, mid-pedophile-priest-scandal Dublin, the novel is breathlessly overbilled by the publisher as a battle with "a religion-obsessed serial killer" (not technically accurate, as there is only one death in the book, and that one is an accident). Hyperbole notwithstanding, characterization is spotty: the two protagonists and several of the female victims are well described, and other actors are merely paper dolls. Nonetheless, this is a gripping and atmospheric tale of obsession, violence, and inspired detective work, as Fallon and Mulcahy, working both together and at odds with the bureaucracy, flawed colleagues, and each other, seek to stop the serial rapist known as The Priest. VERDICT While leaving room for improvement, this first novel is a strong start to a promising fictional collaboration/relationship between Mulcahy and Fallon. For fans of European crime fiction and psychological thrillers.—David Clendinning, West Virginia State Univ. Inst. Lib., Charleston
Kirkus Reviews

Journalist O'Donovan launches a new series with the tale of a Dublin assailant whose crimes give the Troubles and Ireland's current economic crisis stiff competition.

English-language student Jesica [sic] Mellado Salazar, 16, is walking home when she's grabbed by a man in a van and brutally assaulted. For all the horrific details, the crime would be routine if she weren't the daughter of Spain's Interior Minister. Supt. Brendan Healy attaches Inspector Mike Mulcahy, just back from a posting with Europol's Narcotics Intelligence Unit in Madrid, to Inspector Claire Brogan's Sex Crimes squad as an interpreter who can take the girl's statement. When First Secretary Ibañez sees that Mulcahy is the only officer who treats either Jesica or himself humanely, he insists that Mulcahy be assigned to the case, then spirits the victim out of the country, forcing the Garda Siochana to hide their investigation. Marooned in a posting he hates, surrounded by colleagues who look down their noses at him, Mulcahy finds comfort only in devising theories of the case that Brogan and Sgt. Andy Cassidy, her sneering sidekick, ignore, and chatting with his old friend Siobhan Fallon, a Sunday Herald reporter who soon sets her sights on a story she's convinced involves a high-level cover-up. A second attack on a dental secretary, and the news that the first assault wasn't the first after all, raise the stakes for all concerned.

The killer's religio-pathic background is never quite convincing, but O'Donovan juggles his suspects deftly, and frustrated Mulcahy promises to be excellent company for the long term.

Product Details

Publication date:
Mike Mulcahy Series , #1
Edition description:
Simon & Schuster
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt


WAS IT LUCK, REALLY? SOME MIGHT CALL IT FATE. OTHERS THE MANIFEST presence of God’s guiding hand. He almost missed her. Between the dark and the trees and the cars parked up on the grass verge, his headlights caught a flash of white top and the gleam of something gold. He’d never have seen her if he hadn’t been in the van, sitting high up. By the time it hit him full-on, he’d driven past. But he knew the road well, the quiet residential estates behind laid out in a grid. He took the next left, then three rights, and he was back out on the main road again—behind her now, taking it slowly.

She’d got barely thirty yards further, sauntering along like all of them did, like there was no tomorrow. He glanced in the rear-view mirror. Nothing. Scanned ahead. Not a ghost in sight but her. No need even to stop and ask. As he passed her again, he tried to get a better look, but a lamp post was in the way and he only caught a glimpse. It was enough, though. He gave it fifty yards or so, then pulled up on the verge, nice and easy, cut the engine and lights. Then it was just a matter of slipping into the back, checking the gauge on the cylinder, and making sure everything was in place.

Watching her through the square tinted windows at the back, he could tell she hadn’t noticed him stopping. Wasn’t noticing much by the look of it. Excitement gripped his breath as each step brought her closer, slowly, until he got his first clear look at her. Dark hair, shoulder-length and glossy, a white crop top flattening out her chest, a slash of bare belly, a tiny slip of skirt only just covering her. The gleam of precious metal on her neck. Typical.

He struggled to keep his breathing slow, forced himself to relax using the technique the doctor had shown him. Concentrating, making sure he got it right this time. He’d practised it over and over in his head, but experience had taught him to make allowances for the unpredictable in these matters and be prepared to react accordingly. Only the last few yards now. He closed his eyes, blessed himself, and began counting down. It was easier that way. Left hand holding the sack, right hand gripping the handle of the side panel door. He’d spent hours getting the sliding action smooth. Then he was out, landing perfectly, just a couple of feet in front of her, and his right hand was a fist now, flying like a missile straight at her face, so startled she didn’t have time to take a step back—or even be frightened.

© 2011 Gerard O’Donovan

Meet the Author

Gerard O’Donovan was born in Cork and grew up in Dublin. After a brief career in the Irish civil service he traveled widely, working as a barman, bookseller, gherkin-bottler, philosophy tutor, and English teacher before settling down to make a living as a journalist and critic for The Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph, among other publications. In 2007 he was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association’s prestigious Debut Dagger competition.

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Priest 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
On assignment in Spain working drug trafficking for Europol, Garda Police Inspector Mike Mulcahy returns to Dublin. His boss Superintendent Healy sends him to St. Vincent's Hospital to assist with translation Sex Crimes Inspector Claire Brogran and Detective Sergeant Andy Cassidy on a sexual assault case of a Spanish speaking teenage girl; whose genitals was severely burned. The sixteen year old victim is Jesica with one j whose father is Spain's hardline Interior Minister Alfonso Mellado "The Judge" Salazar. Because of his time in Spain, Mulcahy remains on the case as a contact with the Spanish government though sex crimes are not his expertise. The predator used a gold crucifix to burn the teen. Whereas the Sex Crime cops insist this is a sexually perverted act by a psychopath, Mulcahy believes otherwise as he thinks this was a religious ritual. Dubbed the Priest by the media including Mulcahy's girlfriend Siobhan Fallon, pressure mounts from politicians to make an arrest immediately. The second Mulcahy police procedural (see White Lion) is an entertaining Irish whodunit with an intriguing motive for the serial sexual assaults (and one murder). The cast is stereotypical of the sub-genre; as the police superiors, the politicians and the media demand instant gratification mostly to either duck from the noise or to be heard over the clamor; the other cops insist they know best; and the hero becomes the Lone Ranger (without Tonto) to the rescue while expecting to be placed on suspension. Still readers will enjoy Gerald O'Donovan's exciting mystery. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. It was slow at times but most of the time the pace was fast and the plot well-thought out. kim
rtpana More than 1 year ago
The plot is engaging and solid. The action is fast. Will certainly read more of Gerard O'Donovan's books.
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