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(Detective John Lynch #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  121 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Born and raised in Chicago, Detective John Lynch might just be about to die there too.

Because one dark secret might be about to tear a whole city apart.

A pious old woman steps out of the Sacred Heart confessional and is shot dead by a sniper with what at first appears to be a miraculous and impossible shot.
Colonel Tech Weaver dispatches a team from Langley to put the shoo
Paperback, 361 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Exhibit A (first published April 28th 2013)
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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  121 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Dan Schwent
When an old woman is shot by a sniper just after leaving confession at Sacred Heart church, Chicago cop John Lynch is on the case. But what does the case have to do with one in 1971 that saw his father murdered? And what will the shadowy government organization that has also been tapped to bring in the sniper do if Lynch gets in the way?

First off, the official stuff: I got this ARC from Exhibit A in exchange for reviewing it. I'm a huge Angry Robot fan so when I heard they were launching a crime
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Like Watergate, where the cover-up became worse than the crime, this book is about a multi-generational cover-up of a 1971 murder investigation and the subsequent corruption and revenge by powerful local and national groups with vested interest in keeping the past permanently buried "under the rug". Present day Chicago PD detective John Lynch becomes entangled in what appears to be a serial killer but has roots in the 1971 murder of his father, Chicago PD detective Declan Lynch, in a shoot-out w ...more
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, o

Product Description
Born and raised in Chicago, Detective John Lynch might just be about to die there too.

A pious old woman steps out of the Sacred Heart confessional and is shot through the heart by a sniper with what at first appears to be a miraculous and impossible shot.

Colonel Tech Weaver dispatches a team from Langley to put the shooter – and anyone else who gets in the way –in a body bag before a half-century of national secrets are revealed.

But soon the sniper s
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, dan-oshea
The thriller sub-genre is a well-trod path which requires some real ingenuity and inventiveness in a novel to prevent it from falling into the worn rut of overused tropes and cookie cutter characterizations. In Dan O'Shea's debut novel, Penance, the author deftly manages to avoid most of the standard pitfalls, introduces an interesting protagonist, unravels a terrific thriller mystery, and best of all (in the eyes of this native Chicagoan) cuts right to the bone of Chicago's body politic! I don' ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A work of tremendous scope and ambition. O'Shea writes with the same vision than James Ellroy and yet with a sensibility that is his own. PENANCE is the story of John Lynch, of second chances and opportunities, but it's also a novel about Chicago and the complexity of its urban sprawl.

Dan O'Shea kept me riveted throughout his novel with his intricate plotting, his willingness to address the reader's intelligence by building a difficult story and by the beautiful, unique detective he created in
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
I picked this book up (actually, had to order it from my local bookshop) because the author is a friend of a friend, who once said something nice about me (back in college, some of us started a "magazine," basically a mimeographed collection of some of our fiction, poetry, reviews, and essays, and O'Shea was a contributor). There's a murder on page one, but the killer is revealed (to the reader) on page two, and the reader is aware of who's doing what throughout, so it's not a typical "mystery." ...more
Gareth Price
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Helen Marslovak is shot through the heart when leaving Confession Detecetive John Lynch is sent to investigate. Turns out that Mrs Marslovak is the mother of high-powered businessman Eddie Marslovak, who happens to have friends in high places. Very high places.

From this point Dan O'Shea starts to weave his intricate plot. We are briefly introduced to the sniper, Fisher, himself and the shadowy Intergov agency that he has gone rogue from. Cue flashbacks to 1971 involving the death of the May
Rob Kitchin
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Penance felt to me like a mash-up of Michael Connelly, Tom Clancy and Stuart Neville’s The Twelve -- a smart, well-written police procedural thriller, mixing cops with black ops spooks, political intrigue and a rogue operative seeking to avenge deaths through murder. The story is all tell and no show with engaging prose, and rattles along at a quick, page-turning pace. I was hooked from the get-go and zipped through in a couple of sittings. The characterisation is good across the cast and Lynch ...more
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Born and raised in Chicago, Detective John Lynch might just be about to die there too. Because one dark secret might be about to tear a whole city apart. A pious old woman steps out of the Sacred Heart confessional and is shot dead by a sniper with what at first appears to be a miraculous and impossible shot. Colonel Tech Weaver dispatches a team from Langley to put the shooter and anyone else who gets in the way in a body bag before a half century of national secrets are revealed. Detective Joh ...more
David Ledeboer
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Setting: Chicago, the windy city.

Antagonist: Ismael Fisher, a sniper of unimaginable skill gone rogue.

Conflict: Some dirty political secrets that stem to the very tip of our government are on the brink of being exposed.

Hero: John Lynch, a detective way in over his head; let’s hope he can tread water fast enough.

Take out your blender, toss in a dash of perfect setting, a pinch of deadly antagonist, a smattering of conflict worth killing for, and top it all off with a smooth talking detective. I’l
May 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, thriller, crime
Penance is one of the two inaugural titles for Angry Robot's new crime imprint Exhibit A. Launch titles always have a little extra pressure attached as they are the first time the new publisher or imprint gets to show their sensibilities and give the reader a taste of what they can expect when they see that particular publisher's logo on the spine of a book. As such I was looking forward to see what sort of impression Dan O'Shea's debut novel Penance would make.

On first glance, Penance hit all t
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dan O'Shea must have been a crew chief in the 18th Ward at some time. Here is one reader that will peruse everything he writes.

It would have been a 5 star if the time jumps were less and the long term relationships were clearer. I understand them, but few outside of Chicagoland readers will be able to follow. This book needed both a familial and job tree chart. Not that they wouldn't have overlapped!

This was brutal, filled with gore and chewy murder. Also pretty accurate. And didn't even visit
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Verushka

*Beware of possible Spoilers*

To say that Penance by Dan O’Shea is a complicated, sprawling read is an understatement.

Detective John Lynch is a Chicago detective that gets pulled into a sniper case. It’s a hardy run-of-the-mill case, but what you won’t expect, and neither does John, is for the case to take him back decades and reveal the identity of his father’s murderer.

This is where the book lost me.

On the one hand, this complicated case, the inter-persona
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
I really enjoyed this fast-paced thriller. The narration of this novel is very clipped and bare-bones and I found that this fit well with the personality of the main character as well as the fast pace of the story. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way and I never knew exactly how it would all turn out at the end, which is a big bonus point for me.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this book, namely because it is split between two time periods. Adding to the confusion
Tobin Elliott
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, 5-stars
I don't know...I' a lot of thrillers in my time, but I found this a one so much better, so much more enjoyable than most. Maybe it was the dialogue and word choice that rang so true. Maybe it was the author.a reading of his own novel in his gruff, no BS voice. Whatever it was, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
John Lathers
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wicked smart, extremely well crafted detective model. Highly recommend.
Booked podcast
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Hear the full review over at the Booked. website:
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Hear my full review on my podcast:
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-read
You can find the full review over at The Founding Fields:

Shadowhawk reviews one of the first launch titles for Angry Robot’s new crime imprint Exhibit A.

“A flawed but fast-paced and nuanced thriller that is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat.” ~Shadowhawk

Thrillers are a weird genre for me. I don’t really read that many thrillers, although I kind of enjoy one on occasion. Clive Cussler, Jeffrey Archer, Lee Child, Dan Brown, John Grisham, I’ve r
Maggie Carroll
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Caveat: the author is a friend. Also, mild to moderate spoilers ahead.

Penance has been touted as an "adrenaline-rush" and "one foot in Bourne" and "as serious as a .45 in full battery", and all of that is true. But the moments I found Dan O'Shea really shone were the quiet ones: Lynch and his sister at the hospital, notably.

They tell you in English class that theme is important and is decided ahead of time, but I've always found that theme grows organically from the narrative, and one reader's
Christopher Novas
*originally posted here:*

Penance follows Detective John Lynch through the seedy underworld of Chicago’s corrupt political landscape, which has ties to international power and shadow government agencies. We are given brief glimpses into the world of Chicago in the 1970s, where the sins of the father are laid bare which continue to haunt Det. Lynch and in the present, the discovery of these sins threaten to collapse the house of cards that the politically p
Jul 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Although realistically presented, this crime thriller uses a technique I rarely like – the flipping back & forth between time periods in separate chapters. Flashbacks can be helpful to fill in details, but the method used here made it difficult & sometimes confusing to follow the current day story. I found myself frequently paging back to keep the characters straight. There are many mystery/crime thriller authors who do this better including Michael Connelly, Harlen Coben, Tom Clancy &am ...more
Steve Weddle
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What's so nice about successful books like this one - and this one in particular - is how they weave a backstory from decades ago into a current narrative, each chapter from the recent past helping to inform the telling of the present story.
What's remarkable about PENANCE is how the author is able to distinguish each, to create such full, real characters in each frame, with language and details so fitting to each.
Though I tend to dislike books that move the telling back and forth in time, PENANC
John Hanscom
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Actually, 3 1/2. The problem was, the author did not seem to know whether he wanted to merely tell the story, or write like Mickey Spillane, with "booze/broads/battles/bad language." He kept switching back and forth, which was disconcerting. Other than in passing, he only had two female characters - one in a "male" job (assassin), and the other who (with one exception toward the end) existed merely so the hero could "get his ticket punched." I wish he'd made up his mind, as it was a good story, ...more
Overall, a good story. I had a difficult time getting into the story at the beginning with the interspersing timelines over the chapters. The second half of the book got better when it dealt with just the current timeline. You could feel the drama of time running out and wondering which team was going to come out ahead.
ABC Group
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Dan O'Shea's not fuckin' around. He's written a fantastic crime thriller. Fast paced and woven around a series of murders, subplots and modern day reckoning, Penance should be optioned for film.

Wordsmiths and theologians take note...O'Shea is a smart dude that doesn't swing his shit around ruthlessly. He just does a bell check from time to time. They're definitely a ringin'.
David Marshall
Jul 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
At times, I found this almost unreadable with a plot that wholly lacks credibility. But if all you want are sociopaths killing innocent people and each other, this is the book for you.
Brandon Nagel
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Perfect. Check our Benoit Lelievre's review to get the scoop. I'm a reader not a writer. I do not think O'Shea could have written a better book. I cannot wait to see what's next!
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fast-paced crime thriller that shows a lot of Chicago love. The tight writing is a beautiful thing to behold.
Mary G.
Apr 07, 2015 rated it liked it
More like 2.5 stars. Not bad but little impobable at times.
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