Book review

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson (2005)

Not the kind of policeman you might be expecting.

If you're after a detective story this is not for you. But there are some mysteries to be solved here in this rather wistful story that wanders between reality and that other world where faeries dwell and magic is strong.

When you open these pages you'll be in Ireland and you'll meet JJ Liddy. Unusually, for someone so young, he is steeped in the old ways. He plays the fiddle, all the traditional tunes, for the ceilis. But for someone so well rooted in his own culture it is surprising that he has never heard his own family history:

'One of the Liddys...' Jimmy said something else but he mumbled it beneath his breath and JJ couldn't hear. It sounded like 'burgled the beast'.
The teacher on yard duty was calling them in. Jimmy began to walk towards the school. The others fell in.
'He did what?' said JJ.
'Forget it,' said Jimmy.
It was Aidan Currie who said it, loud enough for JJ or anyone else to hear. 'Sure everyone knows about it. Your great-granddad. JJ Liddy, same as yourself. He murdered the priest.'

Pretty unsettling news, wouldn't you say? Obviously, JJ needs to find out the truth. And he starts by asking his mother. But in fact there's someone in town who knows more about the matter even than his mother: the new policeman. Garda Larry O'Dwyer.

Garda O'Dwyer, though, is preoccupied with a different, unconnected mystery. At least, he thinks he might be:

Larry O'Dwyer sighed and took a step towards the narrow double doors. He'd had a good reason for becoming a policeman but sometimes it was difficult to remember what it was.

They're going to make a good team, JJ and Larry O'Dwyer...just as soon as they've worked out what the real problem is.

I think you'll enjoy this one.

What can I read next?

Kate Thompson has written many books. You might like to have a look at this one:

But if you enjoy the Irish magic connection, perhaps you should look at this classic by Pat O'Shea:

If you really enjoy stories that lead you off into strange, magic worlds and back again, here's a good one by Catherine Fisher:

And here's another excellent story by Ann Coburn:

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