Reprobation

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Sister Helen Hope, a lecturer in eschatology (the study of death and the afterlife) at an unnamed university in Liverpool and a Calvinist nun (who knew there was such a thing?), finds herself drawn into the bizarre murder of a reformed penny-ante drug dealer. The murder victim has been killed and then literally crucified on a beach near Liverpool, accompanied by a Bible verse with special meaning for those who believe in the Calvinist tenet of predestination. Debut author Catherine Fearns’ novel only gets weirder from there. 

Sister Helen makes an unlikely alliance with a foul-mouthed Norwegian heavy-metal band musician on tour in Northern England, and the pair begin investigating that murder and more crimes to come. At the same time, an odd-couple pair of detectives — the newly promoted Merseyside Detective Inspector Darren Swift and his female sidekick, Detective Constable Colette Quinn — are investigating the same series of crimes via a different route. What will each investigating pair discover, and who will close in first?

"Reprobation" proves much more complicated and offbeat than I have just made it sound. Fearns’ plot veers into unexpected directions and examines theological premises not much considered these days — not just ignored in the secular world, but in most religious communities. The term "reprobation" has come to mean “severe disapproval,” but it originally meant “rejection by God.” Under the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, those who aren’t the Elect are headed to Hell, despite their faith, their attempts at good works, or their life choices — in essence, rejected by God through not fault of their own. Such a theology makes for pretty grim religion, which readers can see revealed at the convent of the Order of the Sisters of Grace. But even for those who reject predestination, the novel reminds us of one of the central paradoxes of all religions: How can a loving God permit so much senseless cruelty and evil in the world?

Fearns’ novel isn’t perfect. Detective Swift comes across as a cardboard character inserted to play the role of religious skeptic, and Sister Helen makes some pretty implausible choices; however, Reprobation otherwise delivers such a fresh approach and so many twists that I almost devoured it in a single sitting, and I can’t wait for the sequel, Consuming Fire, due out this week.

Caveat emptor: Those who object to foul language will find plenty of that here. And those who are distracted by missing punctuation (like me) will fume and ask why Fearns didn’t get a better proofreader.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd. in exchange for an honest review.
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I read Consuming Fire recently by Catherine Fearns and thoroughly enjoyed it, so wanted to read the previous novel featuring Quinn and Helen....so glad I did....

A young man is found tied to a cross, murdered..... so it begins...who would do such a thing, a crazy serial killer, a gang killing or a religious zealot...?

DI Darren Swift, on his first major case as DCI and his colleague, DC Colette Quinn are part of the team to investigate and hopefully solve this bizarre case.

Quinn meets Helen Hope a Calvinist nun, who studies death and humanity and her ‘friend’ Mikko,  a rather colourful, death metal musician who help bring some sense of reason to this dark and disturbing crime.

Swift is keen on following a drug angle in the murder case, but Helen discovers that there someone is mixing the concept of fate with DNA and genetics......mixing science with religion....

There are great characters in Quinn, Helen and Mikko, which is a real credit to Catherine Fearns creative and expressive writing.....twisty, dark and full of detail....brilliant.

I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review
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Before picking up this book I had no clue what I am going to read and when started reading, it took me by surprise. Reprobation is a murder mystery  which gave me very strong Dan Brown vibe. It is a story of Helene Hope a nun and professor who along with Heavy Metal singer Mikko goes on a quest to find out about murders. This book is perfect combination of science and religion with really good character development and in extremely dark setting, I loved layers in character of Dr. Hope, who gave up pleasures to embrace god but is often questioning herself. She is confused and sometimes vulnerable which makes her relate able.

There is a police officer who is incharge of this serial killing case and is trying to make sense of everything that is happening around him, I felt his anger and confusion through out the case.

Even after all these positive points, I could not say that this story is flawless, there were some things here and there but at the end this book ended really well for me and I am looking forward to read more from this author.
3.7/5 Stars
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I received a copy of Reprobation by Catherine Fearns from Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd through NetGalley. 

I didn’t know what to expect of this book. I’m an atheist so I don’t know about religions much and Calvinism is a new knowledge. Reprobation was my first book which revolves around religion. 
The main character being a calvinist nun is original and just so imaginative that I had to read this book. And I wasn’t disappointed. The story kept me up well into the night which is always a good thing.

I very much liked the characters, especially Helen - our nun - and Mikko. It was interesting to follow Helen and Mikko investigate a series of murders. I mean a nun and a leader of a death metal band investigate a murder. How crazy and amazing is that? 
We also follow the official police investigation but that almost seems like a background addition. 

All in all I very much enjoyed  Reprobation by Catherine Fearns and I highly recommend it. I am giving 4 stars because although there is a closure to the murder case, the story feels kind of unfinished. I would’ve liked to know what happens to Helen and Mikko.
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This book is SO COOL!!!

What do you get when an author decides to write a murder mystery which has a Calvinist nun, a heavy dead metal singer and a newly appointed young DI all working towards solving a series of murders which are somewhat entwined with the Calvinist doctrine of predestination (a doctrine which states that a person is already predestined to go either to hell or heaven irrespective of his deeds in this world) and a crazy geneticist's obsession with it.... you get a story which is original, unusual, fast paced and very enjoyable. 

I loved the pairing of the nun, Dr. Helen Hope who also happens to be a lecturer on Eschatology (a study of death and afterlife) and Mikko, the dead heavy metal singer/ guitarist! I mean they have to be one of the oddest pairing I have come across so far in my reading journey but they work brilliantly!! 

The plot line is engaging, the pace is fast, the writing style is easy and engaging and the characters are interesting--ticked all my boxes. The cover picture is intriguing as well, it is the first thing that caught my attention and made me request for the book.

Thank you Netgalley, the author Catherine Fearns and the publisher for the ARC!!
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Interesting read - strong characters and a good strong stortline. The chapters flowed and kept you interested, good crime story
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Once again I would like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a Kindle copy of this book to read and impartially review.
The blurb for this book immediately roused my interest, see for yourself below.
Are you one of the elect? 
Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime. 
When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker. 
Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell. 
Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.
See what i mean lets face it the most unusual pair of amateur detectives you are ever likely to come across, and throw in two young professionals heading up a team for the first time to investigate a gruesome local murder, and yet its so strangely believable brought together beautifully thanks to superb characterisation, and a real feel for time and place.
To say this book is unusual in many respects is an understatement, but its also a very good story, a fast paced page turner, original and very well researched. Frankly if i am honest most of the genetics theory went straight over my head, but in no way spoilt my enjoyment of a very good read.
Complex and very thought provoking, tense with some humour thrown in for good measure. I look forward to more in future after this very successful debut.
Strongly recommended.
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This book was pretty good. It raised some really good moral questions about predestination. If you knew you would go to heaven once you died would you continue to act like it or would you do whatever you wanted to? In the middle of that is a murder mystery. Overall I enjoyed this book. It is very different than any “Cop” book I have read before. Catherine Fearn is a good writer which beats quite a few other writers in the mystery genre who I have read. Totally give this one a go if you get the chance. Besides that, I got free access to Reprobation through NetGalley.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2647427321
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Thank you for giving me the chance to read this brilliant book.

I can echo what someone said to put a nun in this role was a bold and brave move and I am glad it worked as well as I never imagined it would. Being a former Liverpool resident this was a really good read. I am still stunned but how well written it was.

As for Calvinism, I have never heard of it until this book. I am tempted to look more into it. This is a strong debut from an author I have never heard of before and I will look to pick it up when it's released.
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Highly quirky and dark mystery that takes place in today's Liverpool. The main characters are a Reformed Church nun -- not sure that these congregations exist -- and the lead in a Norwegian rock band. The premise is unusual and topical, though at a few turns, somewhat farfetched. 
I enjoyed the setting, the characters and the story line, and easily kept reading to the end. Recommended for fans of noir mysteries who are looking for a fresh setting and story. I'm eager to see what the second book in what, I hope will be a series, offers.
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I really wanted to love this book. I think with a little more work, I could have. But unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

I'll start with the good stuff:

The author put so much love into describing Liverpool, the city that the story takes place in, that you can tell she really cares about it. She really has a knack for settings and it showed, especially in the beginnings of the chapters.

Her characters were all quirky and different. They were one of the reasons I requested to read this book: a nun, the lead singer of a heavy metal band, and detectives all trying to solve the same crime. I really cared about them.

The religious content was handled well and lent the mystery a very compelling base.

However. there were aspects that I think this story really struggled with.

The timing was all over the place. There is a part in the book in which a character indicates six weeks had passed since the first page and I had a very hard time believing that. The passage of time felt stilted. This coupled with the pacing, which felt very uneven. At some points, the book lagged to a near-stop and at other times, things were resolved in leaps and bounds. It messed with my perception of time and was very frustrating.

I also believe the author struggled with writing the middle of the book. It seemed disconnected from the first and last acts, with too much focus on character introspection and not enough on the mystery itself. 

Lastly, the mystery was resolved very unsatisfactorily for me. It all felt too quick with very little hints to show where the story was going so that the twist felt like it came out of thin air. 

All that being said, I still enjoyed what I read and would read another book by this author.
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This book was much darker than I was anticipating and very descriptive in places.... it also involves some science and studies that I have never Heard of before... how would you live your life if you knew you were already genetically pre-destined to go to heaven or hell? This is an interesting concept and very thought-provoking, it is also the theory of the rogue geneticist that they are chasing down... an interesting look at the similarities and differences between science and religion.... all leading to murder and “total depravity“.
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#Repribation # Netgalley 
A reallly good book, my only problem with this book is how a retired detective and a ex nun go on the trail of a serial killer. I loved the character of the cynical detective. Yet they do work well together. If I had one negative it’s the Heavy Metal link. I thought it was  good without having to put that in the book, it’s was overall a bit too much which I didn’t think was necessary at all. Science, meets religion it’s heavy metal connections was a bit too much to bare
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I loved this unique thriller. Calvinism is something that has always fascinated me - particularly the doctrine of predestination andeschatological verification, which completely terrifies me, and so I really enjoyed this one. Some questions weren’t answered as well as I would have liked (particularly some eschatological ones but hey that’s eschatology), and parts of the investigation were too smooth and obvious. But that didn’t detract much from the story
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This is a great debut novel which has so much going on at so many different levels. On the face of it, it is a police procedural involving the help of a civilian who becomes interested in trying to help the solve the case but it really is so much more. DI Darren Swift is newly promoted and back at the station where he worked years ago in Liverpool. Together with colleague DC Colette Quinn he is working his first murder, a strangled corpse found nailed to a cross with strange religious writing and left on the beach. Dr Helen Hope is a Calvinist nun who lectures part time at the university in eschatology, basically an expert in "what happens to us when we die?" the question she poses to her new students. Her strict religion teaches that this is pre-ordained and, since it appears that the killer believes something along the same lines, she is enlisted to help explain the biblical quotes in this and other crime scenes. She becomes curious and tries to carry out her own investigation, making an unlikely friend of death metal frontman Mikko Kristensen in the process. The whole topic of what happens after death and if it has already been decided for us, together with the study of genetics and the morally debatable question of the use of gene therapy is all opened up in the book whilst never giving the impression of preaching or taking sides. I did feel I got to know Helen and her personal dilemmas much better than any of the other characters who appeared a little "flat" in comparison. It's hard to say more without giving away too much of the plot, but this is a very interesting book which I would recommend to anyone who wants their mind stretching a little whist enjoying a good story.
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When a body is found crucified on a beach with a strange religious quotation, Darren Swift consults Sr Helen, a Calavanist nun. She is an expert in the end of days.  This is Darren's first murder case and he is full of doubt. Sr Helen is intrigued by the case. She forms an unlikely partnership with a Death Metal musician to find out how a rogue geneticist is involved- not only in the murder but in a plot to change everything Helen believes in.

This is an unusual book with a real mix of characters. The style also takes a bit of getting used to. Once I got into it I really enjoyed this book-  good start to my 2019 reading!

Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
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I received this from NetGalley and, mannnnn, I’m thankful for it!

Overall Feelings:

This book pulled me in right from the beginning. It seems like an odd mash-up: a nun, heavy metal band leader, and genetics, but it is perfectly balanced and gave me everything I never knew I needed in a novel. 

Characters:

Helen felt like a real person with real feelings and emotions. I felt her struggles and I wanted her to find the peace she desperately needed. 

The detectives were ok—they felt a bit generic but it wasn’t a huge deal to me. Same with Mikko and the other side characters. I can be ok with just one “real” character if they’re the star of the show as long as the others aren’t too flat. 

Plot: 

I actually really liked this. I’ve read many, many thrillers and mysteries in my day, and I have to say this one kept me invested until the very end. I usually get frustrated with twists and turns because they’re so obvious or too outlandish but Reprobation had the perfect balance.  

Now...why 4/5 stars? Well, this is where the spoiler tag comes in—so stop reading now if you don’t want to know the ending. 

We spent the entire book feeling Helen’s struggle with her faith and her life path, yet the book ends before we find out if she definitely walks away from her vows. I mean, yes, she does say that will /likely/ do just that in the last church scene, but it isn’t for sure. I don’t need nice tied up pretty endings, however, I do like to have some sense of closure to problems presented in a novel. I feel like leaving this particular issue open-ended is a bit too much for me to swallow. BUT really, that’s my only issue. The writing was beautiful (if maybe a bit too descriptive at times, but it wasn’t too much of an issue.) I’m looking forward to checking out other books by Fearns.
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Thank you @netgalley and @ crooked cat for an ARC 

I am literally rubbing my hands with glee about the discovery of Catherin Fearns, a new author  (for me) who writes dark, cross-genre fiction and illustrates perfectly that you can, with talent, write a story with many different parts making a glorious whole.  I’m not going to talk too much about the plot because I’m a notorious unwitting plot spoiler - suffice to say that I may have found my next favorite female MC - up there with Nona Grey (Mark Lawrence).

Helen Hope is a  Calvinist nun and theological professor who has entered into an austere religious order that ordains the rejection of pleasure & the embrace of spriritual and practical service.  Sadly, she has done this to atone for a perceived past sin - the death of a sibling  

But if you remove pleasure from your world what does it fill with?  Well, it depends very much on personality as the book explains.   In Helen’s case, a sense of loss and longing which she constantly attempts to suppress and in the process allows herself to be manipulated by her zealous Deaconess. 

And for others - a righteous & maniacal zealously that can only end badly.  And does for some of their victims.

One of the most interesting things about this book is the exploration of theological and religious issues.  The author has a huge interest in these unwieldily concepts and explores them vividly and I found there to be an interesting ambivalence about religion and possibly in Catherine - one that I hope is explored in later books.  Cracking dark thriller full of complex characters that leave you thinking about them for some time.

Highly recommended - 5* All the way :)
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Thankyou to NetGalley, Cameron Publicity and Marketing and the author, Catherine Fearns, for the opportunity to read a digital copy of Reprobation in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.
This book is certainly not just another murder mystery with religious overtones. I was intrigued with the premise of the story, and was certainly not left disappointed.
The plot was well thought out and original. I was sucked in by the engaging nature of the characters. I thought this book was a great read. I cannot wait for her next publication.
Definitely a book that should appear on your 'to be read' list.
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Dr Helen Hope, a Calvinist nun with a troubled past, is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. Police approached her when a crucified body is found on a Liverpool beach, near her Convent. Helen investigates things on her own. With the help of a death metal musician, she tries to solve the mystery.

The synopsis hooked me. As an atheist/skeptic with a keen interest in spiritual / transcendental I enjoy books that touch subjects of religion, philosophy and fate. I know nothing about Calvinism, but it feels that Fearns has done a sound research (experts may disagree, though).

Helen is a caring, intelligent woman torn between a desire to help others, punish herself for an accident from her past, and experience true life. While I liked her, I also feel she‘s not fully fleshed out. Sure, watching her attend a death metal concert in nun clothes was fun, but her development and growth doesn‘t convince me. Other characters remain two dimensional and the story‘ antagonists are utterly flat. 

I like the premise; I appreciate the research, but I don’t cherish the outcome. Mainly because of pacing issues, underdeveloped characters and unsatisfying conclusion.
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