Monday, February 12, 2024

SERIES REVIEW - DI Tessa Burns #1 and 2

Title:  Little Witness
Author:  S. A. Dunphy
Series:  DI Tessa Burns #1
Publisher:  Bookouture 
Genre:  Mystery & Thrillers
Format:  Audiobook ALC
No. of Pages:   378
Narrator:  Melanie MacHugh
Length:  8 hr 20 min
Date of Publication:  February 12, 2023
My Rating:   4 Stars 


They came in the dark. They took her parents. And now she is the only one who can save them.

Hidden away in an isolated cabin on the edge of her farm, seven-year-old Aisling Connolly shivers as the cold night air whistles through her thin jacket. It’s been two days since the men came, since her mammy told her to run like she’d never run before, to not look back. She hasn’t seen her parents since. And she’s terrified.

But when Aisling is finally found by the police, she knows instinctively she can trust Detective Tessa Burns. A former child-witness herself, Tessa understands what Aisling has been through, and that Aisling must remember everything she can about that terrible, dark night if she’s to save her parents. Something Tessa was unable to do for her own parents all those years ago.

As the little girl slowly starts to open up, Tessa uncovers much more than she’d bargained for – another murder, clearly a horrific warning to Aisling not to speak. But time is running out, and any hope of finding Aisling’s parents alive is rapidly fading. And Tessa must do everything in her power to ensure the little girl isn’t next…

An utterly gripping Irish police procedural filled with unexpected twists. Perfect for fans of Peter May, Lisa Regan, and Patricia Gibney.


Detective Tessa Burns has to gain the trust of seven-year-old Aisling after her parents turned up missing. Why the child was able to run away and stay hidden for a couple of days is a mystery to Tessa and her fellow officers. As she slowly brings Aisling out of her shell, Tessa hopes that the child will be able to provide any evidence as to what happened to Aisling's parents. 

Aisling did not speak at first. However, the more Tessa is able to get Aisling to open up, the more Tessa discovers. In fact, there was a murder most recently, and Tessa fully understands the child's fear. Keeping Aisling safe is just as important to Tessa as to discovering the killer and what has happened to her parents.

This first book in the DI Tessa Burns series was an excellent read. In fact, having this book as an audiobook was quite enjoyable. The series is set in Ireland and the accents and voices really made this story come to life.

This story was definitely intriguing, especially as the reason for Aisling's parents disappearance was discovered. Also, I loved the characters in this book. Not only were Tessa and Aisling strong protagonists, I also loved wheelchair-bound Maggie, a family liaison officer and her dog Pavlov.

I loved this book, as well as the second book in the series, Only the Children, which is released alongside this book, The Little Witness. These enjoyable reads leave me eager for the next book in the series.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Title:  Only the Children
Author:  S. A. Dunphy
Series:  DI Tessa Burns #2
Publisher:  Bookouture 
Genre:  Mystery & Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  349
Date of Publication:   February 12, 2024
My Rating:   5 Stars 


The little girl stares up at Tessa, trembling so hard her whole body shakes. Her brothers stand clutching her hands, both pale with shock. ‘They told us not to speak,’ she finally whispers. But the terror in her tear-filled eyes tells Tessa all she needs to know…

When a cargo ship runs aground off the Irish coast, the police are horrified to find the captain dead at the helm, the crew missing, and three little red-haired children, terrified but unharmed, locked in the galley kitchen. As an expert detective running a child-centred taskforce, Detective Tessa Burns is called in to lead the case.

Despite Tessa’s best efforts, the children won’t reveal a thing – not even their own names. Slowly gaining their trust, Tessa uncovers a deadly secret about their past – and the mystery of their missing parents’ whereabouts – that turns everything she thought she knew on its head.

But just as it seems she’s cracked the case, Tessa’s team is attacked one dark night, and the youngest boy is kidnapped yet again. It’s clear the children are still in terrible danger. And when another senseless killing sends shockwaves through her team, Tessa realises the murderer is someone much closer to home than they could have ever imagined. Will she be able to uncover the truth in time, or will it be too late for her, and, most devastating of all, for the children…?

A totally unputdownable Irish police procedural with jaw-dropping twists. Perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney, Lisa Regan and Angela Marsons.


Three children, two brothers and a sister, are found on a boat. Everyone else on the boat is apparently dead. The children have been instructed not to speak, so it is unclear where the children were from. DI Tessa Burns must do what she can to get the children to trust her enough to let her know who they are, why they were on the boat, who their parents were, and why the murders took place.

Just as the children might be able to trust Tessa, one of them is taken. There was a mystery person on the boat and it appears that person is the one that took one of the boys. Meanwhile, Tessa and her team find themselves in danger. In fact, Maggie, a wheelchair-bound family liaison officer, and Tessa's good friend, finds herself in a very difficult situation during the investigation.

What a great book! Having met Tessa, Maggie, and the wonderful dog Pavlov in the previous book, The Little Witness, really helped to make this second book in the DI Tessa Burns series a truly fabulous read. This is the fifth book that I have read by Dunphy and I find myself intrigued and entertained with every book I read. I look forward to this series continuing, especially as these first two books had children among the protagonists, and I love just about any book that includes children.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Shane Dunphy (S. A. Dunphy) was born in Brighton in 1973, but grew up in Ireland, where he has lived and worked for most of his life. A child protection worker for fifteen years, he is the bestselling author of seventeen books, including the number one Irish bestseller Wednesday’s Child and the Sunday Times Bestseller The Girl Who Couldn't Smile. His bestselling series of crime novels (written under the name S. A. Dunphy) feature the criminologist David Dunnigan. Stories From the Margins, his new series of true crime books written for Audible, has been critically acclaimed and the second title in the series, The Bad Place, is an Audible True Crime bestseller. 

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