3 out of 4 stars
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Brian O’Hare’s novel The Dark Web Murders is the fourth installment in the Inspector Sheehan Mysteries series. Like the novels before it, this book is thought out carefully and intense. The plot follows Chief Inspector James Sheehan and his team as they try to stop a brutal killer who boasts about his deeds on the Dark Web through a series of blog posts. When Sheehan and his team discover that the victims are linked to a strange and secret club, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place as Sheehan gets closer to discovering who is behind the computer, and the grisly crimes.
Aside from O’Hare’s near flawless pacing and plotting, the way he allows the reader to get to know the killer is unique and makes clever use of modern technology. With social media and blogging a big business, O’Hare decided to use this trend to his novel’s benefit. Interspersed throughout the novel are blog posts written by the killer for the public on the Dark Web to read. These posts detail his grisly crimes. This allows the reader to gain needed insight into the character while simultaneously moving the story forward to help the characters solve the mystery behind the crimes. This is a fantastic way of getting to know a character who would otherwise remain a complete unknown, thereby leaving the reader out of the most important part of the story.
I have read a couple of O’Hare’s past installments in this series, and it is nice to get reacquainted with characters I have grown to love. The characterization in The Dark Web Murders picks up right where it leaves off in the previous installment of the series. It is a pleasure to see each member of Chief Inspector Sheehan’s team grow in their own unique ways. For instance, Sargent Denise Stewart has made great strides in her life and seems genuinely happy. It is always nice to revisit characters and see them growing as real, multidimensional people.
The main aspect of the story I did not care for is that O’Hare waits to reveal important information that moves the story forward with unimportant banter between characters. For example, when Chief Inspector Sheehan is waiting for a clue from the coroner, the coroner delays giving the information with random small talk. This leads to Sheehan’s frustration when he has to ask the coroner a total of three times to just give him the information. By extension, the reader becomes almost unbearably frustrated. While this could be taken as a positive point as the reader is identifying so closely with the protagonist, due to the unimportance of the banter, I feel that it is a bit like O’Hare is trying to pad his writing for length.
Overall, I rate The Dark Web Murders 3 out of 4 stars. While I love the story and it’s use of a popular trend, the putting off of important information through unnecessary dialogue took a bit away from the total experience for me. I would recommend this book to readers who love a good mystery or thriller. However, if you are easily annoyed with unimportant details, this book may not be for you.
The Dark Web Murders
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