Book Jacket


rank  Editors Pick
word count 31577
date submitted 06.09.2009
date updated 09.08.2011
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Crime
classification: moderate

Gold Orchid

Frank McGrath

Enter the mind of a psychopath.


When a mysterious poem is found with the headless body of a young Chinese woman at the Grand Canal, Inchicore, South Dublin, Detective Superintendent Jack Grogan is temporarily reassigned to his old job in Kilmainham, with one task: Find her killer.

Assisted by Detective Sergeant Aisling Enright, Grogan sifts the evidence and interviews the suspects.

But when the body of newsreader Lauren Carlsson is discovered in similar circumstances in Camden, and EUROPOL becomes involved, Grogan finds himself dealing with a deranged killer - And things have just got personal.

The book is complete at 108,000 words - only part of it is uploaded.

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artist, chinese, crime, detective, dublin, europol, forensic, ireland, london, murder, police, procedural, serial killer, thriller

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HarperCollins Wrote

This is an extremely convincing and potentially commercial crime novel. A Dublin detective investigating the discovery of a dismembered corpse finds himself embroiled in the hunt for a serial killer who has been murdering people across the globe for decades.

The police procedural scenes were well-paced and moved the plot along well. The chapters that dealt with the killer and his back story are suitably chilling. They combine to produce something with significant potential. It is a rewrite and a decent edit away from being a publishable novel.

The book does have issues that need addressing, some of which I am about to list, but all of them are very easily resolved and would be picked up by any editor.

Cliché. Do we really need another cop with a broken marriage, recovering from a drink problem who is also a bit of a maverick? Perhaps we do but I don’t think any of these elements are actually essential to this book. Why be derivative when you could be original?

Dialogue. Not too much exposition through dialogue, thankfully, but some of the conversation is a bit clunky. Going through the whole thing and asking ‘would a real person actually say that?’ will fix it. Nailing the rhythm and cadence of the way people speak would bring the writing to life.

Plot issues. There were a couple of places where I thought ‘hang on a minute’ but they weren’t essential plot points so would be good to address them. One was the policeman’s funeral which seemed to happen only a day or two after he was killed in an accident. Quite how the family had organised it all, gathered and composed themselves in time is beyond me. Better to avoid incredulity on aspects like this.

Title. Hardly gets the pulse racing does it?

After looking at those issues, and with a bit more work, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this book picked up by a publisher.

Amanuensis wrote 1391 days ago

That's the first HC review to sparkle with intelligence. Well done, that reviewer.

Oh, and Frank too.

Jared wrote 1494 days ago

I left brief comments 191 days ago, but have looked at this book on several subsequent occasions, noting how it has tightened and become even more effective with successive edits - and it was pretty damn good to start with!
I'm delighted to see a book of this quality achieve success and recognition, very well deserved.
The pitches are well planned and effective while 'And things have just got personal' adds that essential dash of intrigue. This is a well-crafted police procedural with commendable attention to detail. I worked in close proximity to police officers for many years and your feeling for the nature of their work is bitingly accurate at times, very commendable. The prologue is a wonderful preface to the main story and you write with considerable talent and feel for your subject throughout the excerpts I've had the pleasure of reading.
A powerful and effective example of a crime thriller with exceptional judgement of pace and skilful characterisation. One of the very best books in this genre I've read in a long time - and I read a lot of books! Very strongly recommended.

J. Hamler wrote 1629 days ago


Okay, that was fantastic, Frank. Stupendous. Seriously. I mean that. Forgive me if I get a bit rampant with the praise, but I'm sitting here shaking my head like a dummy because the writing is so damned evocative and the ending so poignant. I assume the boy will grow up to be our villain, but who knows? Maybe it's Grogan himself. Wouldn't that be interesting? Well, no. Not really. I'm just thinking of possibilities because your prose makes me think as it entertains me. Which is high compliment, even if my personal opinion carries little to no weight. I dunno. I think you're insanely talented and frankly I'm a little jealous. :) How do we get the world to acknowledge you, Frank? If I had any power whatsoever I'd use it to get you in whatever door needs to be opened.




cutley wrote 1657 days ago

Sometimes, just occasionally, I find Authonomy a rather depressing place. I stumble across a book which is so exceptionally well-written that I despair at the idiocy of publishers. I have just had one of those moments of depression. How on earth could anything as masterful as this remain unpublished a moment longer?

I do hope they come to their senses.


Rob Thomas wrote 1609 days ago

Good God man, this is brilliant. Seriously. The opening chapter had me dumbstruck in awe and desperate to read chapter two. Which just continued to be most excellent. The characterisation, the location establishment, the subtle and wonderfully observant descriptives ('the twelve doors opening simultaneously', '...polka dotted with gum').

I could go on. Really I could because, after two chapters, this seems to have everything. I have to back this right now but, without doubt, I will HAVE to read it all.

Of all the books I've read on Authonomy, this has had the most immediate impact. on me.

Lynne Heffner Ferrante wrote 594 days ago

Delicious story, well told...I don't need to tell you how successful it will be. Aside from the fact that this is my favorite genre, you have done it so well.
Now that you have your gold medal, would you consider taking a look at my book and commenting on it?

Lynne Heffner ferrante
An Untenable Fragrance of Violets

riantorr wrote 752 days ago


Rian Torr
New London Masquerade

billysunday wrote 893 days ago

Read a few chapters of your book and was immensely impressed. Disagree with what HC wrote and am shocked that they did not pick this up. When I read other's work on this site grammar, odd transitions, strange dialogue, etc. glares and gets me distracted from the story. Not so for this book. Was immediately sucked in when you wrote about the boy's abusive childhood in the first chapter. Because of your medal you don't need comments or ranking. But I think this is a terrific cop story and something I would buy. Dina from Halo of the Damned and The Last Degree

strachan gordon wrote 963 days ago

Extremely nasty and sinister and ,of course , I mean that in a good way . Very vivid , it creates a completely believable situation - where it will lead seems a complete mystery .As the writer below has indicated , it looks very commercial . I wonder if you would have the time to take a look at the first chapter of my novel 'A Buccaneer', which is set amongst Pirates in the 17th century , with best wishes from Strachan Gordon.Watchlisted

Elvisnapoleon1 wrote 1019 days ago

I have backed your novel.
I have returned to this site and have added a further Chapter of my novel, still incomplete, Triumphant At Last...Kind regards,

stephen racket wrote 1039 days ago

If I'd have noticed the HC medal before I started reading I would have skipped past this. I'm glad I didn't.
I read the prologue and first 2 chapters and thought they were superb. The brutality of the misbehaving boy's treatment, Grogan spotting the potential suicide, and then 5,147 unread e-mails! Perfection. Doesn't seem much point in giving this 6 stars or putting it on my shelf, but it will be on my WL until I've read everything uploaded. Based on what I've read so far, this should be a best seller.

B A Morton wrote 1083 days ago

On the search for a good thriller I came across your book. I've just finished ch4 and I'm totally hooked and reading on. Surely this is published?

Tom Bye wrote 1234 days ago

ARTISTIC LICENCE' HI FRANK just read many chapters of this edgy and realistic story, from chapter two as we meet Grogan as he notices a schoolgirl, and as his instincts tell him that something is wrong here,why is she not a school? and on after questioning her reports her in to a patrol. this routine life of a guard makes for a very engrossing read as he is sent to see a chinese girl murdered found in the canal. the short chapters are straight to the point as the move from Dublin to London and back again. the pages draws you in as you read on and wanting to know how the Dublin London stories gell together. The rest of the book promises a good read
backed with pleasure
please glance at mine about a boy growing up in Dublin in the 40s thank you

Tom Bye wrote 1234 days ago

ARTISTIC LICENCE' HI FRANK just read many chapters of this edgy and realistic story, from chapter two as we meet Grogan as he notices a schoolgirl, and as his instincts tell him that something is wrong here,why is she not a school? and on after questioning her reports her in to a patrol. this routine life of a guard makes for a very engrossing read as he is sent to see a chinese girl murdered found in the canal. the short chapters are straight to the point as the move from Dublin to London and back again. the pages draws you in as you read on and wanting to know how the Dublin London stories gell together. The rest of the book promises a good read
backed with pleasure
please glance at mine about a boy growing up in Dublin in the 40s thank you

Eunice Attwood wrote 1304 days ago

Brilliant writing with a great story line. I see that it's all been said, from what I have seen of other reader's comments. I can only say - what they said and more. Eunice - The Temple Dancer. (Backed).

neicyhope101 wrote 1311 days ago

Interesting concept. The pitch definatly caught my attention but the prologue was so dramatic to me! I loved it, especially the last paragraph about the doll. I'm not usually a crime genre type of person but I can see why this one has captured so many people's attention including me. *Neicy*

DavidP wrote 1320 days ago

Congratulations for earning the star. I looked into your book precisely to learn from the masters, and I'm happy I stopped by. I read the first 3 chapters in no time because I was fully involved in the reading. Outstanding first chapter and going in crescendo from that point on. Exemplary use of vocabulary and a plot that grabs the reader and doesn't let go.

Hope you'll be interested in taking a look at my book and give me your thoughts.

David Placeres
Sunless Shadows

toffee5poon wrote 1362 days ago

Nothing but compliments for this. Just read one and two and really enjoyed them. I'm sure anything positive i have to say has already been said many times, so i'll just wish you all the best.


scro1461 wrote 1368 days ago

Worthwhile reading. it is very easy to read and has everything that a crime novel needs. Very good story line too.


CG Fewston wrote 1371 days ago

So, Frank, was all the hard work on this website worth it?

yasmin esack wrote 1380 days ago

I don't get this. What could an editor possibly want?

Lynne Ellison wrote 1389 days ago

"One was the policeman’s funeral which seemed to happen only a day or two after he was killed in an accident. Quite how the family had organised it all, gathered and composed themselves in time is beyond me. "

Maybe they were Jews or Muslims; these religions require burial within 24 hours.

Amanuensis wrote 1391 days ago

That's the first HC review to sparkle with intelligence. Well done, that reviewer.

Oh, and Frank too.

Katrina McGee wrote 1409 days ago

Really a great read! Got me hooked right away!

Gauis wrote 1415 days ago

Artistic licence - I loked at ch 15
Its a good cclear vice - but for me the staccato style from start to (nearly) end, was a bbit much. What about a few longer sentences, esp. early on, so when you do get to the cat its even more effective.
I like the simple clarity
Cut - desperately - not needed and spoils the effect of the cats head on the fence
cut - quickly - maybe say 'slipped'

The disposal in another neighbours bin is a bit loose - can i have it a bit more specific - but generally, very much enjoyed and I am struggling for criticisms.

Hope this little helps
and I REALLY would value your views on Charlie Marconi - a lot of common ground, i think

Francis Albert McGrath wrote 1415 days ago

Good points. Will take on board. Oops... another cliché. I think I'm turning into Mark Billingham. I will consider seriously.

Too many bland everyday comments here and somewhat cliched in places. ie: 'Something was not quite right, but he couldn't put his finger on it.' There are also some descriptions which leave the reader with unfortunate impressions, such as: 'shaking her blonde ponytail like a race horse readying for the starting gun.' Shame, because I found the plot sound, but the writing a little pedestrian and too cerebral for my taste.

Robert Sherwood wrote 1421 days ago

These are my favorite kind of stories. Very well written and gave me chills at times. I am backing this book with pleasure. Please take a short read of my book and let me know what you think. Cheers.

name falied moderation wrote 1422 days ago

Frank, I dont like books like this but I was curiously drawn to the title, then your profile and so I continued. I read with on. The reason was the beautiful way you write, and I mean this. There was a flow if poetic pictures you created for me from the start. However, because of that, I had a dread inside me. I wanted to immerse myself in your art but I felt it was going to impact me too much. I had to continue. You see Frank I am not a natural writer but a good reader, your book reads easy and brilliant color creations for your character. You create so well with words, I found myself peeking into real life, it was real for me. I gather you have reached where you wanted to reach on this site, and congrats well deserved. I would really appreciate you reading some of my work, it is non-fiction totally different, and that is good. If you could give comments so I may improve as a writer. General comments from others I am applying and will re submit over the weekend, I do hope I get there too. BEST of luck Frank

zen17 wrote 1424 days ago

Hi Frank,
sorry, I've been away from things for a while. I've backed your book...wishing you the best of luck.

Kieron wrote 1426 days ago

Excellent, well done old bean. Very realistic and compelling. Backed, even though yer up there!

Sandy Samson wrote 1426 days ago

Frank - Congratulations on your writing success! I'm going to give you some hyper-critical comments on your prologue, in the hopes that I may provide some ideas for further polishing of this promising work.

>> Mother was gone for the day. She had left him two ham sandwiches and a glass of orange juice, together with his reading and maths homework. <<

When I read, I love deep immersion. I like to be inside the head of the POV character, seeing what he sees, hearing what he hears, and so forth. I am not alone in this. Most agents and editors say that they prefer third-person-limited mode. This opening sounds to me more like the voice of an omniscient author, telling us things instead of showing them to us.

If I were writing this opening, I would do it more like this quick-and-dirty example. It's far from polished, but it will let you understand my thinking:
(By the way, I also do not like having the boy's name kept from me. This is an impediment to full immersion in the story. When I know the name of the POV character, I can situate myself down in the world of the story more easily. I'll call him Sam for now.)

Sam pinched his lips together and stared at the two stale ham sandwiches and glass of warm orange juice. Across the table, his undone homework lay in accusatory silence. How long could he put it off? Mom had left supper for him, so she'd be gone for a while yet. Plenty of time.

The exact words may be all wrong, but do you see how I opened with his name and what he saw? Then I quickly placed him in the scene. I even put a thought in his head. Between all of these things, the reader is immediately drawn inside his head, living in the world with him. We know who he is, where he is, what is around him, and what he is thinking. In my opinion, this is more effective than just using the voice of the author to recite a few facts for us.

>> He hoped mother would bring home a man-friend tonight. Then they would have a nice dinner tomorrow. <<

Maybe I'm just dense, but even after pondering this a while, I did not get the logic here. The best I can come up with is that the man friend will stay all night and all of the next day (unlikely) until dinner time.

>> The boy’s favourite was the one that read <<

This really feels like the voice of the author intruding on the story. He is TELLING us a fact instead of SHOWING us. You could show this to us by having him pick it up, read it, and smile.

>> He put the marker tip beneath his nostrils, inhaled deeply <<

Whew, nice!

>> then frowned as he blackened a neat triangle on the doll’s pubic region. <<

This stopped me dead for a moment as I tried to figure out how inhaling from the marker could cause this blackening. Dripping ink? I finally realized that this was a separate, independent action. By putting both in the same sentence, you confused the actions for me. I would have him pick up the doll, lift its dress, and mark it. This additional detail would clarify the move. The lifting of the dress would also increase the creepiness of the move.

>> artfully arranged its clothes and underwear. <<

ARTFULLY ARRANGED is vague, undefined. I have no idea what it means. Is the underwear looped around its ankles? Stuffed in its mouth? I would like to SEE exactly where he placed the clothes.

>> hitting his head with a smart crack. Stunned, he moved his hands to shelter his head <<

Personal opinion only: It seems to me that hitting a person on the head with a rolling pin hard enough to make a crack would at a minimum knock the person out. Maybe kill him. I find it hard to believe that it just stunned him, and he was still able to protect himself.

>> When he tore the voice box from the doll’s back, he felt satisfied. <<

This final paragraph was powerful and poignant, very well done.
But for my taste at least, your ending sentence damaged the effect. This was the voice of the author again, telling us a bland fact (he felt satisfied).
As a reader, I don't want to have the author tell me something like this, especially as the conclusion to such a powerful scene. Maybe he lay back, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Maybe he chuckled and tossed the remains of the doll aside. Give us an image. Let us SEE his satisfaction instead of just using the author to TELL us that he was satisfied.

SUMMARY: You have an incredibly powerful opening here. You have set up a trio of bizarre characters involved in a profoundly dysfunctional relationship. Wow. This sure does grab a reader.

But a major problem for me is that you kept lifting me up and out of the emotional world of the story by using the omniscient author to recite bland facts to me. I want to SEE things for myself and come to my own conclusions instead of being told what to think by the author.

I wish you tons of success with this promising novel.

Sandy Samson

Paula L wrote 1428 days ago

Intriguing police procedural, tight and well-written.

Paula L (Rollover)

maxie wrote 1429 days ago


Truly disturbing opening, wonderfully written but disturbing, you`ve hooked me already and i`ve only read two chapters, if this lives up to my already high expectataions I think i`m going to have trouble sleeping tonight, it is brilliantly done, wonderfully written and deserves to be in print, happily backed.

Good luck
Cerys (Gabriel)

Battle Knyght wrote 1433 days ago

An other Jack the Ripper murder.

James Shown wrote 1436 days ago


You sent me a message about 2 weeks ago saying you backed my book. I'm playing catch-up with messages from 30 days ago. Yours is on my WL for a day or so until I can rotate the bookshelf. thanks for your patience.


delhui wrote 1444 days ago

Frank --
This is an absolutely gripping opening. I can see why you're well on the road to success in publishing this story, and I wish you all the best!

Ren Nowaki wrote 1444 days ago

Frank, this is fantastic. Your prologue sets the tone nicely, and you launch straight into your story from then on. Edgy, well-crafted writing, great pace, great momentum, and brilliant character delineation - you have all the right ingredients for a top-notch thriller. I can see how this made the ED - well done, and much deserved.

M D Eyler wrote 1445 days ago

This visceral account cultivates the correlation between child abuse and its equally horrifying results. This illustrates that the damage of negative influence and abuse can turn an innocent child into a monster. I didn't even breath throughout the first chapter. Not only is this a well crafted, well written book, but I commend Mr. McGrath for bringing this reality to the attention of others. It is a wondeful accomplishment to succeed in simultanous entertainment and education Well Done, MDEyler.

Mediocre Writer wrote 1445 days ago

Frank, many apologies for taking so long to have a look at this (too long, alas, as I now see you’ve got your gold star). Anyway, for what’s it worth, I did enjoy this, found it very well-written, and the narrative immediately drew me in. The dialogue was also good, giving me a good initial feel of the two police officers and the schoolgirl.

As for the prologue, very interesting... Best of luck with this.

LRM wrote 1448 days ago

Congrats, Frank!
Finding Beth

Pete M wrote 1448 days ago

Congratulations, Frank. Well done! Can't wait for the review.

Francis Albert McGrath wrote 1449 days ago

Here's the breakdown of the backings received:
Sep 2009: 88
Oct 2009: 117
Nov 2009: 241
Dec 2009: 216
Jan 2010: 335
Feb 2010: 209
Mar 2010: 559
Apr 2010 282

TOTAL 2047

Connie Chastain wrote 1449 days ago

Putting on watch list after two chapters to come back and finish reading later. Very good writing, pulls the reader along easily. Creepy subject. All in all, a great effort.

glenn1862 wrote 1449 days ago

congrats... let me know how it goes.

Elizabeth Wolfe wrote 1449 days ago

Congratulations! And best of luck with the editorial board - I hope it leads to publication for you.

Elizabeth Wolfe (Memories of Glory)

Mike Napier wrote 1449 days ago

Mike Napier (VietMom)

Sandra Hamer wrote 1449 days ago


sokelly wrote 1449 days ago

Have already backed this book. Just like to say it is my favourite so far. A real page turner.

HarrietG wrote 1449 days ago

pushes a lot of buttons and I can see why it's risen so high. Topical references - recognise a lot of themes from newspaper crime reports over the last years. Didn't get much of a sense that this was happening in Dublin, rather than anywhere in the world. Scene setting felt rather perfunctory and generic but perhaps that was deliberate to broaden its appeal. The external narration was appropriate but deadened the sense of emotion, making this appeal to the head rather than the heart. No breathcatching tension for me, even in the gory bits with the buzz saw.

But thrillers aren't my genre, for reading or writing and the only police-centred books I've read are the Rebus novels so I'm on thin ice here. HC will give you more and better feedback than I can. Hope it's all been worthwhile.

S.C. Thompson wrote 1449 days ago

This one got me.Fully realized characters, settings rich with informative detail, and mature writing style bring this unsettling tale to life. B-A-C-K-E-D !
(Viene la Tormenta)

Rob Sadler wrote 1449 days ago

I was hooked after the prologue, dark and disturbing, it caught my attention and held my interest almost immediately. Extremely well written and captivating as i'm sure you have heard many times already. If this one isn't being published already I have no idea why!

Tina Goddard wrote 1450 days ago

Really enjoyed the tightness of the writing. Crime is not at all my normal genre so I don't feel qualified to comment on plot, but I loved what I have read so far and will definitely read more. Excellent stuff. Keep up the good work.

Winney wrote 1450 days ago


Mike LaRiviere wrote 1450 days ago

couple of typos: ch 10 - para 10: not "been" here. ch 44, last para "thirs page"

As an American, I have read works from across the waters that were so heavy into the local brogue that I couldn't understand the storyline. You have masterly handled the fine line of maintaining a European flair that is understandable by those who don't live there.

The development of a totally depraved mind is difficult to do, but you did it and you did it well. Making that mind understandable to the reader is something else you did in an expertly psychological manner. The criminal, the crime scenes, the criminal's home base of operation (no pun intended) all supported the character.

You obviously did your homework concerning police work --my son is a career police officer and writes crime/cop stuff.

I really thought the use of frozen body cubes as building blocks was great and painted a mental picture of a mature yet child-like mind playing a macabre game of Legos.

You, sir, are a great writer, a skilled wordsmith, a masterful painter of word pictures, a weaver of interesting scenarios, and finally a competent handler of the European society at large. This was worth my time reading and I came away with fresh ideas for concept development and maintaining the reader's interest.

You get a PawPaw Mike thumbs up, a sincere backing of your fine work, and my best to you from this here Yank.

Thanks for a great read,

PawPaw Mike

CJ Cronin wrote 1450 days ago

I haven't been finished with your book but the first few chapters I've read are really well-written. The prologue impressed me with a nicely set-up eerie atmosphere, which gave me the creep but also drove me to move on. The plot unfolds itself in good pace and compels my awe. I think this piece of work deserves attention from the publisher and wish you best of your luck!Backed