Anthony J. Quinn

The Listeners

"It’s a cracking read that really does leave you guessing until the final few pages."


Not long out of the fast-track training course at Edinburgh's police college, Detective Sergeant Carla Herron is about to be tested to breaking point.

She's been called to Deepwell psychiatric hospital in the Scottish borders to interview a patient who has confessed to the murder of one of the hospital's psychotherapists. The confession is vividly detailed, but for a man locked in a secure ward and under 24-hour surveillance, it is also utterly impossible.

So why can't the supposedly murdered psychotherapist be contacted? Why are the hospital staff so secretive, so difficult to work with? Why have other Deepwell patients made disturbingly similar confessions over the past year? Against the advice of her superiors, Carla delves deeper into the hospital's past and is plunged into a labyrinth of jealousies, lies and hallucinations.

Against the advice of her supervisor, Carla embarks on a chilling trail through the bleak uplands and dark forests of the Scottish borders, every step taking her closer to a deadly reckoning.

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I was already a huge fan of Anthony Quinn. Having loved his debut novel, 'Disappeared', I've followed his career with interest. This latest novel is something of a departure for the author as he leaves Northern Ireland, and his enigmatic detective, Celius Daly, to try something new. Set in the beautiful Scottish borders, 'The Listeners' introduces us to Detective Sergeant Carla Herron. She's a great character – complex, flawed and, like every working mother in the history of time, she's struggling with the dual responsibilities of parenthood and work. Carla's husband, David, is a stay-at-home father, who feels his wife's single-minded focus on her career is at the expense of her family and, crucially, his own career aspirations. It's a very plausible set up and Quinn uses Carla's home life to brilliant effect, giving real depth to her character. The plot is original and compelling too. As with Quinn's other novels, this is a complex plot with a long list of characters, many with their own reasons for wanting to keep Carla from finding out what's really going on at Deepwell hospital. It's a cracking read that really does leave you guessing until the final few pages. One or two of the plot twists stretched my limits of plausibility, but when the writing is this good, that's a minor quibble. With Carla Herron, Quinn is off to a great start with his new series. I look forward to the next one.

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