My enormous thanks to Ben Cameron at Cameron Publicity for sending me a copy of Reprobation by Catherine Fearns in return for an honest review.
Are you one of the elect?
Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.
When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.
Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.
Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.
My Review of Reprobation
Calvinist nun Dr Helen Hope finds herself embroiled in a gruesome murder.
My goodness, Reprobation is a very different murder mystery. It is complex, intelligent and actually quite challenging at times, being none the worse for the effort I found I had to put in to grasp some of the theological elements and to define some of the language. I thought Reprobation was exciting and fascinating.
Firstly, I loved the character of Helen Hope; from her appropriate surname through her struggle with her beliefs to her intellectual ability. She helps the reader comprehend the religious aspects of both the underpinning theme of Calvinism and the crime narrative, she links theology with secularism through her discovery of Mikko’s music and lyrics and she has the perfect balance of obedience to her lifestyle and rebelliousness against it that makes her a perfect heroine for this kind of story.
Secondary characters like Darren Swift are developed just enough to leave the reader wanting more about them all by the end of the story and it is interesting just how important a character Liverpool is. Reading Reprobation made me want to visit the city to try to experience some of the brilliantly wrought atmosphere for myself. I understand there is a second book featuring Helen Hope and Darren Swift and I can’t wait to read it.
Reprobation‘s narrative is fast paced, twisty and entertaining. There’s a solid police procedural as well as more maverick, independent, action from Helen and Mikko that helps the plot race along and that I thoroughly enjoyed. Music is an essential element of the story and despite my middle aged, middle of the road musical taste, reading this book made me want to investigate the heavy metal musical genre!
However, it was the philosophical aspects that really grasped my attention. I’m a complete atheist but the concept of playing God, pre-determination, sin, genetics and the afterlife are such brilliantly woven themes that I found Reprobation utterly fascinating.
Reprobation can be read on so many levels. It is indeed an exciting and entertaining Liverpool set police procedural murder mystery. It’s also a philosophically thought-provoking read that I feel I need to reread immediately in order fully to appreciate how intelligently and carefully it has been crafted by Catherine Fearns. I think I have missed so much as a result of my own ignorance. Reprobation is certainly a novel that will withstand several readings. I thought it was excellent.
About Catherine Fearns
Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool, UK. Her first novel, Reprobation, was published by Crooked Cat books in October 2018, and the sequel Consuming Fire has just been released. (February 2019).
She writes music journalism for Pure Grain Audio, and her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Offshoots, Toasted Cheese, Succubus and Metal Music Studies. She has a degree in History from Oxford University and a Masters from the London School of Economics.