Detective Chief Inspector Brendan Moran of the Thames Valley Police is recovering from a near-fatal automobile accident. He’s still dealing with lingering physical, like falling asleep at inopportune times, temporary paralysis, and even hallucinations that may or may not be dreams. The doctors assure him he will eventually recover. But in the meantime, his police superior would like nothing better than to see Moran retire on disability. The detective is not only a bit unorthodox; he’s also extremely good at his work. For the present, he has to rely on team members to drive him anywhere.
He’s called to an old local Catholic school, one that includes an abbey. A monk has been found murdered in an underground chapel and a priceless relic is missing. At first believed unrelated, a second death is reported – a man is found dead from a knife wound at a nearby hotel.
Moran’s troubles are limited to his physical injuries from the accident. His alcoholic older brother shows up, asking for a place to sleep for a few nights. The brother hand’s over the key to a “Romanian” he meets in a pub, and a whole group of Romanians take up squatting residence in Moran’s house. They leave only when Moran’s car explodes, the object of a bomb (they also leave quickly). The Irish detective in England discovers that the long arm of the IRA may be involved in the bombing – and his murder case at the school.
Black December by Scott Hunter is the first in the “Irish Detective” or DCI Brendan Moran mystery series, and if you’re looking for a novel or a series when action seems to explode on virtually every page, this may be it. Moran finds himself in a race to prevent more deaths, including possibly his own. To succeed, he has to reach back more than 40 years in the school's history.
The series includes Black December, Creatures of Dust, Death Walks Behind You, A Crime for All Seasons(short stories), and Silent as the Dead. In addition to writing his crime fiction, Hunter is an IT consultant and musician. He lives with his family in England.
Black December is a fast-paced, anything-can-happen-and-probably-will story, with a physically and mentally-impaired detective whose brilliant mind is still able to overcome his injuries. It’s a solid introduction to a new crime detection series.