Book Review: With Our Blessing by Jo Spain

October 21, 2015 Book review, Green Giants 16 ★★★★½

Green Giants is my feature where I share some of my favourite books by Irish Authors.   I’m passionate about Irish Authors, they supply us with a great and exciting mix of books, hopefully you will find something new to try.  Today it’s Jo Spain who is my latest Green Giant and who with a single book has become a must read author for me.

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With Our Blessing is gristly and disturbing. It tackles the mistreatment of the single mothers that occurred back in the 1970s (and earlier) in Ireland at religious institutions. And cleverly links it in with a current murder investigation.

Book Review: With Our Blessing by Jo SpainWith Our Blessing by Jo Spain
Published by Quercus Books on July 27th 2015
Genres: Mystery & Detective, Police Procedural, Psychological, Thrillers
Pages: 528
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from Author
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It's true what they say . . . revenge is sweet.

1975. A baby, minutes old, is forcibly taken from its devastated mother.

2010. The body of an elderly woman is found in a Dublin public park in the depths of winter.

Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds is working the case. He's convinced the murder is linked to historical events that took place in the notorious Magdalene Laundries.

Reynolds and his team follow the trail to an isolated convent in the Irish countryside. But once inside, it becomes disturbingly clear that the killer is amongst them . . . and is determined to exact further vengeance for the sins of the past.

ARC REVIEW CRIME Murder Mystery suspense Well Written

First Line of With Our Blessing by Jo Spain:

“Her whole body shook as the adrenalin coursed through it.”

My thoughts on With Our Blessing by Jo Spain:

When I think about the shameful history of the places like The Magdalene Laundries (where single mothers were sent), it seems so hard to believe that they really happened. And not back hundreds of years ago but within living memory. The incarceration of the women is depicted realistically with all its cruelty and injustices and would break the bitterest of hearts.

The book kicks off with a murder in contemporary Dublin and it’s a shocking murder that is out to make a statement. To offset the dark plotline that the investigation takes, we have a more light-hearted feel from the detectives working on the case. The balance between the serious investigation, the horrible treatment of the women in the past, the more jovial banter of the detectives and the glimpse at modern day life in Ireland all worked really well.

This is one of those books that you won’t forget in a hurry after reading. It made me so angry while I read it. The way other people looked the other way felt as disgusting to me as the people who inflicted the abuse. The book makes an attempt to explain how and why this happened and it also showed the regrets that many have to live with.

I really appreciated that as well as delving into the horrors of the past, it also showed how times have moved on. Obviously the past can never be forgotten or even forgiven but it’s good to see that this book also showed some articulate nuns with a good grasp of the modern world and contempt for the past. As well as not white washing the horrors of the Laundries and the mistreatment of the women who were forced to live there.

I enjoyed the investigation and it kept me guessing right till the very end. I did get a bit frustrated at one stage when I felt the police were overlooking a very obvious group of suspects. But they eventually caught up with me! That said, I still didn’t guess right.

I’m hoping this book turns into a series as the detectives are likeable and well-rounded characters. They added humour and I got invested in their own personal life stories too.

Overall this is an excellent début novel. And now I can’t wait for more from Jo Spain, she is one to watch.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: four-stars


Who should read With Our Blessing by Jo Spain?

I’d recommend this to fans of psychological thrillers with gripping plots, or if you like Irish settings and to those who like to be kept guessing. Fans of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins  and Can Anybody Help Me by Sinead Crowley should also enjoy.

Thank to Quercus Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


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16 Responses to “Book Review: With Our Blessing by Jo Spain”

    • trish

      It is dark Katherine but it’s nicely balanced and the whole package worked really well for me. Hope you enjoy it whenever you get to it (and I think you will).

    • trish

      This will definitely hit you in the feels Laurel, especially with your social work background. I think you will be very angry but I also think you’ll enjoy it.

    • trish

      It needed it Bea as otherwise it would have been far too heavy of a read. But it’s nicely balanced and I really enjoyed it.

  1. trish

    Very disturbing, even though the abuse is well known and documented now, it’s still very hard to read about. I was mad but I loved the book.

    • trish

      It’s a nice balance of dark and lighter moments Brandee and it’s really well done. I couldn’t read it fast enough despite the disturbing topic.

  2. Jo Spain

    I looked at this review on my phone, so this is the first time I’ve gone into the site on a computer. I love this format! Nearly as much as I love the review 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful analysis and all the interesting comments. I really tried to add some light to the shade because I know that’s the only way most of the security services can function in real life. When you’re dealing with such harrowing situations, if you’re lacking in humour yourself, it could just be mind-blowingly depressing. I’m so thrilled you liked it Trish!

    • trish

      Thanks Jo, I’m glad you like the format. I always tweaking the format and trying different things so I’m happy when someone appreciates the way it looks! I thought you nailed the balance between the disturbing and the light-heartedness really well. Is it going to be a series?

    • Jo Spain

      It is going to be a series Trish, second book goes into the publishers this week. Same team but obviously different backdrop – I go for the political this time!

      • trish

        Great! Delighted to hear that and looking forward to your political setting! Hope you make lots of politicians squirm! 😀

  3. Wattle

    This one sounds like it’s a well done thriller/mystery. Some terrible things sure did happen not so long ago; all of our countries have their dark pasts. It baffles me sometimes how far we’ve come, yet how far we still need to go. And I like books that dig into that, so I’m definitely going to keep this one in mind!
    Wattle recently posted…Book Review: Treasured Lies by Kendall Talbot

    • trish

      So true Wattle and pretending that they didn’t happen is no use to anyone. The least we can do is acknowledge the wrongs and try to prevent them ever happening again. This book digs deep and like you I love when that happens. Highly recommended!

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