Welcome to my new website/blog.  First off , I wish to say a huge thank you to the creative and gifted Colleen Sheehan for her work on this site and for giving it its professional gloss.  Anyone who would like support in starting up a new website, or have their Facebook or Twitter pages redesigned, their ebooks formatted or any one of a number of excellent services, click on this link.  You will not regret it.  write.DREAM.repeat Book Design

Friday, 30 March 2018


When an author presents his newly published book to the reading public, he is invariably taking a risk. He is leaving himself vulnerable to the whims and vagaries of the reviewing cadre. Many writers also write reviews and they generally understand the psychological niceties. But many reviewers are not writers. Nevertheless, for the most part they tend to responsible and fair-minded. Criticism from these, positive or negative, is tolerable even to the most thin-skinned writer.

There is that small coterie of reviewers, however, who believe that their job is to find a weakness in a work and spend the bulk of their review focussed on that. It may well be that such negative reviewing is in some way related to the reviewer’s ego, but I cannot be sure about that. To my mind, however, it is a very poor way to review a whole book.

Having written something in the region of 120 reviews, I have unconsciously developed an approach to reviewing which might well be something reviewers should consider. Some books, of course, are so badly written, so poorly structured, so lacking in plot or coherence, that the only approach is simply not to review them. But if a book passes muster and is worth reviewing, then the following points should be part of a reviewer’s thinking:
1. The writer has expended a lot of time and energy on his work. Respect that and offer positive feedback where possible.

2. The writer will have written this book with a specific intention. Figure out what that is and assess the extent to which he has achieved his purpose

3. To achieve his aims, the writer will have set his book in a specific milieu. Don’t complain about this milieu, arguing that you don’t like it. Review what’s there, and it’s relationship to the author’s purpose. You own preferences are irrelevant.

4. The writer will have established a set of values for his characters. If you find these diametrically opposed to your own values, don’t sneer or mock them. You must put your own predilections on hold and review what’s there. You can question their relevance, but if they are part of the fabric of the story, do not criticise or belittle them.

5. Then, of course, there are the standard areas that might find mention in a good review – the quality of the writing, characterisation, complexity of plot, structure, story-telling ability, originality, coherence. All of these areas do merit examination by a reviewer and, should there are genuine weaknesses here, then by all means, they should be pointed out.

These few thoughts were prompted by a comment I read in a review a few days ago.

“.... was not exactly the right book for me. It is a much better book for someone who is more religiously inclined ... While I do feel like the elements, its rituals and beliefs, felt real enough, I had trouble taking them seriously. There were several times during the book, with earnest dialogue between characters, that I found myself giggling and scolding myself with a firm "Yep, yep, you're definitely going to Hell." (The bold lines are the reviewer’s)

This is a perfect example of the kind of comment reviewers should avoid. It is clearly snide, panders to the reviewer’s own ego, and attempts to impose values that are irrelevant to those of the story. It offers nothing constructive for the author to consider and, indeed, seeks to present the story in a very poor light.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Comments from Early Reviews of The Coven Murders

A whirlwind of a ride, frightening, disturbing, and so intent do we become in rescuing the sacrificial victim in time that we almost forget that the murderer has not yet been named. Hang on, because the final scene is a shocker! [C. Todd, Amazon Review]

It's impossible to get into without some serious spoilers, so I'll leave you with this: It will make the hairs on your arms and neck stand up straight.
[Kendra Morgan, Amazon Customer]

The end took me completely by surprise. I’m willing to bet there are few out there who will guess this one. [Denna Holm, Para-normal and Sci-fi novelist.]

Head and shoulders above most mystery authors who are published today, Brian O’Hare deserves far wider recognition. [A.C. Amazon reviewer]

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

I am glad to be able to finally announce that my latest book, The Coven Murders (a dual genre novel, probably best classified as 'an occult mystery thriller'), is now published in e-book format. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Nook, iBooks, among many other outlets. The paperback version will not be available for another couple of weeks, i.e., the beginning of March, 2018.

If you would like a taster of the writing and the story (i.e.' The Prologue and Chapter One) click on the link below, and click again on Look Inside (which you will find at the top of the book cover on the Amazon page)


The e-book is available from Amazon.com at $2.99 and Amazon.co.uk at £2.14.

However, if you order direct from the publisher (Crimson Cloak Publishing) on the either of the links below,

between February 15 and March 15, quoting this purchase code:

you will get a $1.00 discount.

This code can also be used to purchase any of the full-length Murders books. Here are the links to the Crimson Cloak Publishing shop.




NOTE: If you would be prepared to read the book with the intention of posting a review (on three sites, please: Goodreads, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk ) then we would be prepared to offer you a FREE copy (in mobi, epub or pdf)

ALSO: If you have not read any of the Inspector Sheehan Mysteries (check out the reviews on Amazon.com), Crimson Cloak Publishing is offering a special deal for all three in one package for $4.99 or £3.58.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Click on the New Review link below for review of 'powerful and uncompromising' Fallen Men by Book Viral

New Review of Fallen Men

Thursday, 23 November 2017

What was my Inspiration for Writing Fallen Men

A couple of years before I wrote Fallen Men, I was approached by a nervous and extremely agitated lady who asked me if I would write her story for her. I said I would be happy to do so. Over the next few weeks we met on five occasions, during which time she unsparingly delivered to me the most intimate details of her life.

In her forties she had been Manageress of a large office, Lady Captain of the Golf Club, very extrovert and fun-loving. She liked to party and was generally the life and soul of any occasion she attended. One morning she woke up with a sore shoulder. She lived with it, but as the days and weeks passed, the pain traveled to her neck and down into her back. In addition, she began to suffer from a deadening lethargy and the onset of depression. Her personality suffered, and she began to take time off work and spend all of her time at home, afraid to go anywhere, or even to go outside.

A visit to the doctor was inevitable. He prescribed painkillers which, of course, were useless and did not get to the root of the problem. Further visits to the doctor were followed by visits to specialists, none of whom could diagnose her problem.

Eventually, one of the specialists recommended a visit to medically qualified hypno-therapist. One session was enough to provide the appalling reasons for her plight. She had lived her life telling friends about her wonderful childhood and loving mother. In fact, she had repressed all memories of the truth of her childhood, because from her earliest years her mother abused her most shamefully, both physically and sexually. The mother had even hired the three-year old child out to local pedophiles. The details of the abuse were shocking to me, and I was totally relieved when at the beginning of my last visit with her, she told me she had lost her nerve and didn't want to publish the story after all.

In a sense I was sorry to hear that. It would have been cathartic for her. But for me, to have had to write that book would have been torture. To be relieved of the task was a blessing. I commiserated with her, said goodbye, and never saw her again.

But one night, lying in bed, I was thinking about writing a story about an honourable young priest who falls in love with an underage choir girl and gets into all sorts of trouble. My problem was, I could not find any way to justify an 'honourable' young priest behaving like that. But that night I found the answer, and the new chapter that I began to write the next day began with the young priest wakening up with a sore shoulder.

Thursday, 2 November 2017


Although it might be presumptuous of me to speak for other writers, I think I can safely say that the vast majority of authors love getting reviews for their books. The sad statistic is that only about two out every thousand readers take the time to write a review on Amazon about a book they have read. That constitutes about 0.2% of readers.

Harold MacMillan, publisher (and once Prime Minister of the UK) once said that a writer wants naught but praise for his work. There might be some truth in that, but it is not all of the truth. I know that I, and many writers of my acquaintance, tend to very quickly skip over complimentary reviews and spend more time with the critical ones. It is, of course, gratifying to hear words of praise for one’s work, but in those words, as well as the critical ones, the author always wants to know, “Why?” Why was it that you liked it? Why was it that you didn’t like it?

Answers to these questions by reviewers who appear to have some idea about writing and prose, are often very helpful to a writer both in terms of how he approaches future work, and in terms also of whether he feels he should rewrite parts of already published work. I received many reviews for my last mystery book, close to 90% of them between four and five stars. But there were some criticisms that hit home, and I contacted my publishers with significant rewrites and corrections of errors pointed out by readers. The book has benefited enormously from these changes.

However, does that mean authors jump to attention at all critical comments (or, indeed, complimentary ones)? Some reviewers are articulate and take a lot of care to structure their reviews and present them to Amazon (or wherever) error-free. Such reviewers command respect and writers would tend to take careful note of what they say. Other reviewers present lazy, poorly expressed reviews that often attempt present the author’s work in a poor light. I never quite understand why they do that, particularly when these reviews tend to indicate that the reviewer has limited awareness of what the author was actually writing about. I have had a couple of reviewers downgrade my rating because they had to turn to the dictionary too many times, while others compliment me on the clarity and simplicity of my prose. Who does one believe? And what do both critiques say about the people who wrote them?

Indeed these contradictions turn up quite a bit and leave the writer sometimes scratching his head. I have had a number of reviews on my most recent book (mostly complimentary, thank goodness) but how am I supposed to react to direct opposites like the examples below.

One reviewer, whose aim seemed to be to tear the book to shreds for whatever reason, said this:

What to say about this book. Honestly, from the title and its raving reviews on Amazon, I was expecting it to be mind-blowingly amazing. This was not the case. I found the plot to be strong and that it could be a brilliant, unfortunately, the story and style of writing let it down. I found it hard to keep reading the book, it didn’t draw me in and I found it hard to connect with the characters.

Yet, the very next day, a reviewer of the same book wrote this:
For all of the above I will rate this book with 4 out of 4, really questioning myself, why despite having this unique ability to evoke such accurateness in people’s expressions, and marvellous writing skills, Brian O’Hare has not become one of the names that we immediately mention when we talk about crime and mystery novels. I really became a fan for his works after this book and cannot wait to take a look at them. Finally, I wish who ever will read this book after me will enjoy as much as I did.

And to push the point home, I offer two more comments, each from the opposite end of the critical spectrum. The hyper-critical reviewer claims that:

Suspense, in my opinion, is paramount to a good murder mystery and was something this novel was lacking. I felt as if the storyline progressed rather slowly and it wasn’t until the last 35 pages (of this 371 page novel) that suspense began to build. I wish Mr. O’Hare had incorporated suspense throughout more of his book rather than just at the very end. I enjoyed the little bit of suspense and intensity we were given, but was disappointed in how fast it had come to a grinding halt and transitioned to a “happily ever after” type of ending. This, I might add, was written about a book that was clearly labelled as a ‘police-procedural’ and a ‘whodunnit’. I can’t help thinking it is a bit like writing a negative review about a book that offers hints about painting houses and fences because there is not enough instruction about art in it.

Getting back to the critique above, a reviewer from the same stable wrote about the same book:
To say this book is interesting, captivating and entertaining is actually an understatement. For a mystery lover like me, there is everything to love about this novel. Some of the things that caught my attention in this novel are; firstly, the writer's style of keeping the reader in suspense. Each chapter leaves the reader so eager to read the next chapter immediately. The book has a way of captivating a person's interest and leaves him wondering and eager to know what happened next. My advice to anyone interested in reading this book is, don't start reading this book if you are busy with other things because you won't stop till the last print in the book.

The Americans have a lovely phrase for situations like this: Go figure!

So what constitutes a good review? Does it matter whether the author likes it or not? Are there objective criteria that can ensure that a review is good (or bad) in its own right? I have seen lengthy reviews which spend most of the time simply retelling the story (and generally not very well). Some book clubs have affiliated reviewers who seem to have been trained to go through the plot first, then characterisation, then writing style, etc. It all looks very obvious but such reviewers are generally okay so long as the review doesn’t spend 90% of its time on plot and the other 10% on the aspects that would be of most interest to the author and future readers.

I have to confess that as a writer who reads all of his reviews, I skip all attempts, however lengthy, at retelling the story. People who have read it already know it; people who have yet to read it want only a brief indication of what they are about to read.

I suppose my advice to anyone writing a review would be to ask themselves two simple questions. Did I enjoy this book? What was it about the book that made me (or did not make me) enjoy it? Was it the story, the writing, the characters, the excitement, the sub-plot(s), the humour, the climax? A couple of these? All of these? Such thinking will give a reviewer something specific to focus on and write about. The review doesn’t have to be very long. A paragraph or two focussing on what most appealed to you about the book and/or about some glaring faults in it that hampered your enjoyment. But your paragraph(s) will have to be well written, free of errors, and free, too, of unnecessarily harsh and destructive comment. Be fair to the writer. It takes a deal of time, effort, and sweat to produce a book. Make sure your criticisms are justified and offset them with some remarks about the areas of the book that did appeal to you.

There are loads of essays available on the net about how to write reviews, so I am not going to spend any time on that aspect of the subject. I will confine myself to one final comment that will resonate with many writers: Review the book that you have just read, not the one that you wish the author had written.