The Confession: A Novel

Image of The Confession: A Novel
Release Date: 
September 11, 2018
Crooked Lane Books
Reviewed by: 

“Easily a contender for thriller of the year.”

Intriguingly, from the very first page in The Confession, we learn the killer’s identity, but it’s not until the end of the book we learn the reason for it. Not so much a psychological whodunit, but a gripping whytheydunit.

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. And when the man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry, a horror-struck Julie, frozen by fear, watches her husband being attacked. It’s something she will never forget, until the day she dies:

“It’s the first spray of my husband’s blood hitting the television screen that will haunt me in the weeks to come—a perfect diagonal splash, each droplet descending like a vivid red tear. That, and the sound of his skull cracking as the blows from the golf club rain down. . . . There’s something so utterly shocking about that noise. I’d never heard it before and yet, the moment I did, I knew instinctively what it was. The crunching sound of a fractured head is strangely and horrifically unmistakeable.”

McNamara was not a nice man. He had accumulated vast amounts of money—and enemies—over the years in his dodgy banking and grubby business deals. Finding his attacker would not be easy, a miracle would be needed.

Yet it would seem that miracles are still do be had in modern-day Ireland, and the cops have the good fortune of quickly discovering McNamara’s attacker. However, not brilliance of mind, sharp deduction or clinical police procedure brought the attacker to their door.

Just one hour later the attacker, J. P. Carney, hands himself into the police and confesses to beating McNamara to death (Carney is seemingly unaware at this point that McNamara is not dead, but in a coma). Carney also claims that the attack was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. But how did Carney know the door would be unlocked? And what about that golfing iron just waiting to be picked up and used in the bloody battering?

With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, who was just found innocent in a highly sensationalized fraud trial, the detectives cannot help but wonder: Was this really a random act of violence? Was Julie really powerless to stop JP? When Harry’s many sins are unveiled to include corruption, greed, and betrayal, nothing is for sure.

This story is set during the Celtic Tiger economy in Ireland, when everyone spent money they didn’t have like drunken millionaires without the millions. Unfortunately, most awoke with a terrible hangover of reality and debt higher than Carrauntoohil mountain in Kerry. De facto, bankers quickly became the new villains.

The fast-paced narrative alternates between the three main characters in the story, Julie, Carney, and the detective investigating the case, Alice Moody. Eventually, it will be up to Moody to solve the puzzle of Carney’s mysterious surrender. Was it driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game? And what of Julie? What is she hiding? Could she have ordered the brutal attack on her husband?

The Confession is an exceptional crime novel, masterfully paced and peopled with refreshingly bona fide characters. Despite the darkness of the crime told within, it is sarcastically funny with so many laugh-out-loud one-liners, you will find yourself memorizing them. Easily a contender for thriller of the year.