Clare O’Donohue launches a new series with Beyond the Pale – a jet-setting spy novel firmly rooted within a domestic drama. This blending of genres makes the reading experience feel fresh and will have readers eager to travel to whichever destination may be next on this exciting journey.
Often in novels, you either have relationships that are too perfect or ones that are just ridiculously flawed – both solely for the purpose of allowing the author to up-end the couple’s world in order to show growth and maturation of some type over the course of the novel’s plot. Not so with Beyond the Pale. Clare O’Donohue drops readers right into the middle of the Larsson’s marriage – at that time when everything is content, routines have been established, and there is too much taken for granted. This makes for a very relatable background on which to lay some unique and atypical developments.
These two college professors – Hollis and Finn Larsson – find themselves thrust into the most unexpected adventure of a lifetime. Because Finn is an academic, the U.S. government needs his help to identify and successfully obtain a legendary manuscript. Hollis, who once trained with the CIA, not only needs to convince him that they need to take this assignment, but also must keep him safe during said exercise.
Hollis and Finn are both intriguing characters and readers will enjoy learning more about them as the couple realizes that their assignment is not nearly as easy as promised. Through clever plotting, O’Donohue is able to dole out small bits of their history together, hinting at possible issues these two will face during this first case and those to follow.
Since this is the first novel in the “World of Spies Mystery Series,” it will surprise no one that Ireland – the setting for the Larsson’s first assignment – plays a huge role in the book. Almost a character-unto-itself, O’Donohue brings to life the thrill of a foreign locale. As the series continues, part of the thrill with each book will be seeing which counties serve as settings for future assignments.
Given the spy novel elements within, Beyond the Pale reads like a thriller, but the mystery component is never given short shift. Throughout her career, Clare O’Donohue has shown that plotting complex, yet believable, mysteries is well within her grasp and this new novel is no exception. There is enough depth here to please both the thriller and traditional mystery fans.
This genre-blending is happening more and more in the crime fiction field. With Beyond the Pale, Clare O’Donohue has shown that with a believable plot, engaging characters, and strong sense of place, sometimes disparate tropes can combine to result in winning tension and an extremely entertaining and successful novel.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.