Nicola White - In the Rosary Garden

The winner of the Dundee International Book Prize 2013 is a taut and simplistic crime thriller

In her debut novel, In The Rosary Garden, Nicola White breaks from the typical expectations that a crime thriller be 'plot driven'. Instead, her characters are the driving force behind her book, in which families fight to keep their grisly secrets hidden.

When Ali Hogan finds a dead baby in the garden of her convent school, the discovery awakens dark and confusing memories. For this is not the first time in her life that Ali has found a dead child, and as the troubled Detective Inspector Swan continues his search for the killer, he believes that she may be more involved in the tragedies than perhaps even she is aware.

The novel breaks away from the typical trappings of a crime novel, such as leaving numerous false trials and a parade of suspects. White’s style is taut and simplistic, no doubt thanks to her excellent understanding of the short story format. Though the book’s momentum falters slightly around the halfway mark (perhaps due to Swan’s lack of headway), the explosive last quarter rewards readers for staying with it. The minor characters are wonderful and vivid catalysts, in particular brash reporter Mary O’Shea who, despite her relatively brief appearance, is Ali’s driving influence to investigate the death of the baby all those years ago.

In The Rosary Garden is a great first novel, and succeeds in creating something a little bit different within the crime genre.

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