In Search of Brigid Coltrane

Fiction - Thriller - General
338 Pages
Reviewed on 07/15/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Darryl Greer for Readers' Favorite

During World War II the population of that part of Ireland that was to become a republic in 1949 was less than three million. So you wouldn’t expect there to be a lot happening that would interest the rest of the world. Not so; the Nazis were active, British spooks were keeping a watchful eye on things, the so called Blueshirts — Nazi sympathisers — were on the far right of the social spectrum, and the I.R.A. was still flexing its muscles. Then there was the highly influential Catholic Church and the shameful antics of some of its members. Against this historical background Seamus Beirne has cast his latest novel, In Search of Brigid Coltrane. The year is 1941. Peter Coltrane is a mild mannered school teacher who likes to fish. He is also a veteran of the Spanish Civil War and currently involved with the I.R.A. There is an introduction which describes his fourteen-year-old daughter, Brigid, in a dungeon somewhere. The reader’s interest thus piqued, the ensuing chapters take us back to how she managed to get herself into this predicament.

Brigid and her father are fishing near an island known as Red Cow when Peter spots two mysterious hooded figures. As the story unfolds, he witnesses a crime which could have international repercussions. The only problem is, the perpetrators know who he is and they need to dispose of a couple of Coltranes before their dirty deed is discovered. Peter has to disappear fast, but Brigid is captured and held as bait. Despite his I.R.A. connections and friends in the Garda Síochána, Peter is up against the might of the German Army, British thugs and some locals, even some he knows, who’ll do literally anything for money. The desperate search for his daughter is on, with Peter doggedly determined to overcome every obstacle preventing him from rescuing his daughter.

Seamus Beirne’s In Search of Brigid Coltrane offers an interesting insight into Irish history as well as being an intriguing, fast paced thriller. The story is multi-faceted which adds to the intrigue. While the main thrust is Peter’s search for his daughter, the focus is also on goings-on at the German Embassy in Dublin, the inner workings of a monastery and a convent, and the factual Operation Green, which involved the Germans invading Ireland as a stepping stone for Operation Sea Lion, a proposed full scale invasion of the United Kingdom. There are some insightful scenes dealing with the shameful connection between the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Blueshirts, as well as the infamous — and real — Magdalen Laundries. In Search of Brigid Coltrane is a thrilling adventure story, a work of fast paced fiction skillfully woven into real events. It’s really worth a read.

Viga Boland

Irish born Seamus Beirne is one of those gifted writers who can take a period in the world’s history and from it create a story that is near impossible to put down. He did that with his first novel, Breakout from Sugar Island, which told the gripping tale of Irish slaves, victims of Cromwell's terror campaign in Ireland, who perished in Barbados during the 17th century. He has done this again now in his second historical fiction thriller, In Search of Brigid Coltrane. This time, Beirne’s story is fully set in Ireland during World War II. When the protagonist, a tough former soldier named Coltrane, is bringing Brigid, his 14-year-old daughter, home from a peaceful day together on the water, they witness the murder of two men by unknown assailants. Racing to leave the scene lest they too become victims of the murderers, they nearly drown when their boat springs a leak. With the murderers in hot pursuit across misty, swampy lakes and bog holes, Coltrane and Brigid, after nearly drowning, become separated. Unbeknownst to Coltrane, Brigid is captured and that’s the last he sees of her.

In Search of Brigid Coltrane is a frightening thriller that pits Coltrane’s finely honed survival skills and brawn against several very evil men as he doggedly seeks to find out what happened to his daughter and, if indeed, she is still alive. If ever a man had more lives than a cat, that man is Coltrane! Adding to the suspense in In Search of Brigid Coltrane is the historical time frame in which it is set: while Ireland has declared its neutrality in this World War, the hatred that exists between the British and the Irish has opened a way for the Germans to find sympathizers in Ireland, not just amongst greedy mercenaries but also members of the clergy. The search for Brigid brings Coltrane face to face with little suspected traitors, schemers and assassins. Prepare yourself for one very rough, frightening and fast paced journey across the dank and darkest areas of both Ireland and humanity. In Search of Brigid Coltrane is another winning novel from Seamus Beirne. As you close this book, you cannot help but wonder what he has in store for us next. Keep those historical fiction books coming, Mr. Beirne! Your fans await you.

Ruffina Oserio

Set in Ireland during WWII, In Search of Brigid Coltrane by Seamus Beirne plunges the reader into an exciting world of crime, following an abduction case. Brigid Coltrane, a fourteen-year-old girl, is abducted, waking up cold and scared and lost in darkness. But who abducted her and what has a Gregorian chant got to do with it? Will someone come for her and when? The reader is immediately transported into the psychology of the victim, steeped in a setting that powerfully creates the somber kind of atmosphere for a gripping criminal story to unfold. From the first page, the reader is intrigued by the vivid description of the victim and the stream of consciousness, and wants to know what happens to her. From this moment on, great surprises are masterfully laid in the path.

Seamus Beirne comes across as a master in crafting thrillers that sustain the reader’s interest from the very beginning to the end. Readers will appreciate the timely paragraph breaks, the formatting, and punctuation that make for great dramatic effect. The writing is stellar and it features powerful elements that make the read an enjoyable one — natural dialogues and an exacting sense of suspense, humor, and irony. The scenes are intense and well-crafted, and the reader is left with a clear idea of POV. From the attention grabbing narrative tone to the exciting plot lines, to the compelling characters, In Search of Brigid Coltrane comes out as a great success, a novel you don’t want to start if you have important things to do. The surprises are many, and they come unannounced. It’s a must-read for fans of the genre.

Joel R. Dennstedt

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. These introductory words to the television series Superman are more than applicable to Seamus Beirne’s super-paced historical thriller, In Search of Brigid Coltrane. They also suggest the exciting plot: ex-fighter Peter Coltrane, an Irishman who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War and who now lives with his wife and daughter in the Irish village of Cloonfin, while on a fishing day trip with Brigid (the 14-year old daughter) witnesses an execution of two men by German soldiers on the remote island of Red Cow. The man and girl are seen, and thus begins a cat-and-mouse adventure for survival, resulting in Brigid’s ultimate capture and probable impending death. To rescue her might require the skills and power of Superman himself. Alas, Peter Coltrane must suffice. But don’t count out the skills and determination of his daughter … or their friends.

In this high-octane thriller from Seamus Beirne, In Search of Brigid Coltrane powers on in the midst of German spies, Irish turncoats, and British instigators - not to mention religious zealots – as Hitler confounds the world with his rise to power and plans for war. Beirne never loses sight, however, of his main storyline: Peter Coltrane’s efforts to survive and to locate and rescue his precious daughter. Beirne also never allows the reader to catch his breath. His writing is tight and assertive, with a velocity to match. More than Ireland’s declared neutrality is at stake, for at heart this is a thoroughly gripping tale of necessary but heroic deeds and frantic desperation.

Christian Sia

“Fourteen-year old Brigid Coltrane never spent a night away from home until she was abducted. And it wasn't anything like the sleepovers her friends talked about. She was cold, scared and shuffled around in darkness.” These are the opening lines of this gritty, gripping thriller, In Search of Brigid Coltrane by Seamus Beirne, a page-turner that will blow the reader’s mind, a story that is as dark as it is absorbing. The author creates very compelling characters and readers will be captivated by the intensity of the conflict from the very beginning of the story as they follow each winding turn, every surprising twist in the story, trying to figure out who kidnapped young Brigid and whether she would be found and, if so, alive.

Set in Ireland during the period of WWII, this thriller features compelling elements of Irish culture, a powerful setting and characters that readers will enjoy. The plot is original, not something that readers can easily predict, and the masterful use of red herrings makes the story even more interesting. Each chapter is designed with an ending that raises questions and that arouse the reader’s curiosity, forcing them to turn the page to the next chapter. I enjoyed the writing, with the vivid descriptions of aspects of the setting, the exacting stream of consciousness, the well-crafted dialogues, and the wonderful pacing. The plot is well-imagined and it has a lot of surprises that readers will appreciate. In Search of Brigid Coltrane is a wonderful read and Seamus Beirne has a unique signature in entertaining writing.