Thomas O’Callaghan is the author of the John Driscoll Thriller Series. This is the first book that I read from this author so the review below only covers the book ‘No One Will Hear Your Screams’ and not the entire series.
O’Callaghan is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers associations. His debut novel is ‘Bone Thief’ and it introduces us to NYPD Homicide Commander Lieutenant John W. Driscoll. The second book is entitled ‘The Screaming Room.’
Someone is murdering prostitutes and nuns in New York City. The question for Lieutenant Driscoll and his team is to find out whether they are dealing with one killer or more, whether they follow a pattern, and how disturbed they must be considering the murder method of the first (known) victim. The first victim died by embalming and the others meet fates no less cruel. Creative, but cruel.
Main character Tilden Quinn is a complicated man who in his early life killed his mother and her live-in pimp. This is just one traumatic incident in his life. We will read about many more. Together, they form the catalysts for Tilden’s rage and determination that certain women should die. However, it isn’t just prostitutes who become murder victims. Someone is killing nuns too.
Driscoll must compartmentalize himself to solve the crimes. He must be a father-figure to a hacker he needs. He owes her as you will read in the story. At times, their relationship feels too close as Driscoll has some demons in his past. He also must be the lead in the investigation and as such, we see quick thinking and appreciation for his team. But Driscoll must also become the protector to a frightened man who looks like an adult but inside that body lives a child. And it is what that child saw, did, and knows that Driscoll needs.
What I liked
The main character, Tilden Quinn, is despicable. There are very good reasons why he became the person he is and that is a brilliant move from O’Callaghan. Tilden suffered a horrible childhood, no question, and the abuse is clearly what motivates him to do worse. Throughout the story, there is not a moment where his child abuse becomes a turning point where the reader starts to root for him. No, Tilden remains cruel and vile throughout the end.
The character of Adrian Strayer is intriguing and I wished that we had more interaction with him. He could have given Driscoll much more information because as we later see in the book, we are dealing with more than just Tilden. In particular, Adrian brings up a character called ‘Ella’ but we don’t see her play a role in the book.
The police investigation is well done. The reader follows along as Driscoll and his team uncover clues and collaborate with other precincts and divisions.
What I would change
1: There is a lack of uniformity
In the first paragraph of my copy, there are various spaces behind the period. Even if you want to use two, be consistent. It just looks sloppy.
In chapter two, we see the main character Tilden Quinn thinking about a variety of chemicals. All chemicals are written in lower case except for one. Why? This isn’t an isolated incident and occurs more often in the book.
2: Grammar, spelling, style, and punctuation
The chapters are very short, some just one or two pages, and I wonder why O’Callaghan decided to do that.
On various spots it says ‘they’ll’ while the author clearly means ‘there will be’ as in the sentence “They’ll be order in the courtroom!” Or, take this for example: “She snatched his lighter and slipped it in her pocketed.” Either she slipped it in her pocket (page 52) or she pocketed the lighter.
There are several places where it looks like there is a hard return in the text’ style sheets. Sentences are broken off one third into the line and continue on the next.
Bold is used to reflect what a sticker says, a website url, or what someone wrote down. Together with italics in the same paragraph for titles or thoughts, it makes the page look messy.
On page 100, a woman is indicated as ‘descendant’ and it should be ‘deceased.’ On page 148, a ‘while surplice’ should be a white surplice.
At the end, the main character’s fate disappoints. There was a huge build-up and I would have liked to hear more about motives for each victim taken, etc.
There are long sentences in need of a few commas, many grammar mistakes, and typos. I wonder why an editor did not catch these. Is it my copy? There is no mention on my book that it is an advanced readers copy (ARC) where I expect that the final proofreading is still to come.
3: Provoking incidents
Tilden has a kind of standing arrangement with a prostitute. One day, she doesn’t show up but her sister, Valerie, does. We, the readers, have to take Valerie’s word for it that she is indeed the sister. However, I wondered what happened to the other woman. We do not know. We also do not know why Valerie acts the way she does. What was her motivation? As far as the reader knows, Tilden’s standing arrangement is without incidents. So, you are left to wonder. Where is that sister, why did Valerie commit this crime, and was there no other way to introduce her into the story?
There is a flashback scene involving Driscoll’s sister. Most likely, that is explained in the other two books but a short explanation for the novice reader in book three would be helpful.
4: Writing about a strong woman
O’Callaghan gave Driscoll a good team. It includes NYPD Sergeant Margaret Aligante. She is supposed to be a no-nonsense, strong, NYPD cop in a department where 80% is male, yet the author on page 56 makes us believe that this determined cop would “apply her makeup at the red traffic lights she’d encounter on her way in.”
5: Loose end
There are several in the story but the biggest is the family situation of Tilden Quinn. There was an opportunity to give him more background. That would have made his actions less spectacular, less sensational, and actually, expected. If we had more explanations about the family’s past, the book would have gained a rich layer of depth.
I understand it if you think that this is all too picky. However, if you want me to be gripped by your story, if you want me to be drawn into the world that you created, you must make sure that there is nothing that can distract me.
A word of caution. O’Callaghan is really good at describing grim situations and his death scenes are graphic. So, if you are quick to visualize scenes in your mind you may be very uncomfortable throughout this book. It starts cruel and it doesn’t get better.
Can I recommend the book? If you have no problems with graphic scenes, and if you want a fast-paced book, go for it. However, I stand by my review. I stopped reading too often and constantly felt that I missed information.