Welcome to the NB magazine stop on the blog tour for A Hollow Sky by M. Sean Coleman!

Here’s a little info about the book:

Jane Hewitt had been miraculously healed—cured of a terminal cancer that had been eating away at her body for months. After one meeting with an incredible young woman, Jane rose from her
wheelchair and walked out, believing that her lifetime of devoted faith had been rewarded.

The next day, Jane died in her husband’s arms, devastated that her God had deserted her. Her husband, Ian, blames her hastened death on the faith healer she visited. But that faith healer is a teenage girl called Megan, who has been in a coma for five years, and has no say over how her gift is used.

When Ian is arrested after being accused of breaking in to Megan’s house and trying to tamper with her life support, he turns to the only person he knows can help clear his name, and stop this family deceiving any other victims—Dr Alex Ripley, the so called Miracle Detective.

Fascinated by Megan’s case, and needing a distraction, Ripley finds herself on Holy Island, off the coast of North Wales, caught up in an investigation that will prove more sinister and dangerous than she could have imagined. Ian is not the first person to complain about Megan and her supporters, but he seems to be the only one left alive. For now.

A Hollow Sky is the second Alex Ripley mystery.

And a little about author M. Sean Coleman:

Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, M. Sean Coleman developed a love for reading and writing novels in his early teens, thanks to two incredibly passionate English teachers who infected him with their love of words and stories. Over the intervening years, he has written film and television drama, cross-platform series, an interactive children’s storybook and a graphic novel series.

He finally found his niche as a thriller writer when he was asked to write a novel as part of the cross-platform project, Netwars. His first book, The Code, was published six months later, with the sequel, Down Time, hot on its heels. There was no going back.

He is obsessed with crime, mystery and thriller stories, especially those with a fresh or surprising angle. He writes novels from his home in The Cotswolds, where he lives with his husband and their three red dogs.

And now for Gill’s review of A Hollow Sky:

I read this second Alex Ripley mystery hot on the heels of The Cuckoo Wood and, whilst I had firmly dispelled all visual images of Sigourney Weaver and visualised Alex Ripley, Miracle Detective, in her own right, I wonder if my response to the book would have been different had I left a longer gap between reading the two?

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy A Hollow Sky for I did, but the similarities in theme and characters were all too obvious. It seemed that each character in one book had their counterpart in the other almost. The setting was another village, this time in Wales and the antithesis of Kirkdale, from The Cuckoo Wood, in terms of the inhabitants’ demeanour. They were almost falling over themselves here to make Ripley welcome!

The basic premise is that some disgruntled, disappointed and devastated customers of a faith healing regime find their complaints are … unwelcome to put it mildly! When the police are involved and one of the complainants contacts Alex Ripley, a whole web of intrigue and missing persons are unravelled.

The scepticism towards faith healing and spiritual matters continues in this book. I did wonder whether the author has an axe to grind with the charlatans out there who do prey on the vulnerable. But sometimes I felt the balance needed to be redressed in favour of those people whose desire to help is genuine, whose belief is strong and who seek no remuneration whatsoever.

Where this novel does differ from the first is in the exposition of the main plot. Where The Cuckoo Wood allowed the mystery to unfold as secrets were discovered, here we can see what’s going on to a degree, but it’s not always clear who the real villains are and how they are operating. We know it can’t be Megan, who is the healer, because she is in a coma!!

The character of Ripley and her story is developed well in this second book and her situation at the end clearly indicates at least another Ripley mystery (Hope you’re busy at work on it, Mr. Coleman!), thus cementing our desire for the third story.

It’s a tidy piece of work, well plotted and structured, some hairy moments, and very visually written, which made me think this might translate well to the screen. And there was enough to make me curious about what might happen to Ripley in the third book.

Gill Chedgey

A Hollow Sky by M. Sean Coleman
Red Dog Press B07H9DTFM8 ebook Nov 2018