What’s it about?
This book has several plot lines that twist and turn around each other but ultimately come together in a dramatic conclusion. The story opens with the discovery of a small child wandering alone in the woods one night whilst police are searching for a kidnap victim. The child is not the victim they are searching for, and another investigation is launched into her identity and the reasons why she is out in the middle of winter on her own dressed only in her pyjamas. As the story unfolds we are taken on a journey of murder, kidnap, terrorist activity, financial fraud, domestic violence, child neglect and we examine the changes in the relationship between parents and child when old age and mental decline force a change in role and dynamic between them.
Where is it set?
It is set in Northern Ireland and features a real-life wooded area and quarry in Prehen which lends a realism to the story and the setting.
Who are the main characters?
The central police officer is DS Lucy Black and much of the story is hers. The little girl lost in the woods at the start of the story forms an attachment to her, she is investigating the disappearance and kidnap of Kate, the original victim, it is her father who is in the early stages of mental decline and the denouement is centred around her and her senior officer.
How well is it written?
I thought it was very well written in terms of it being a sensible conclusion after following a believable plotline, and the ending was a deserved one. It was in “proper” English, something that I value especially in the nearly-free Kindle downloads available from Amazon, and I couldn’t see any plot holes or gaps in the logic.
My overall impression?
This was the first book I’ve read of Brian McGilloway’s and I really liked it. I liked the ballsy character of Lucy Black and I liked the way she responded realistically to the situations that were thrown up in the plot. There was a definite masculine edge to the narrative – guns, bombs, double dealing, fraud etc – and I liked that. I enjoyed the descriptions of the setting, especially the quarry and the woods. Very atmospheric!
The only downside for me was that because it was in Northern Ireland, it naturally mentioned a lot to the Troubles and my knowledge of that time is a bit limited so I missed quite a bit of the inner references. For example, I don’t know if being a Provo was a good thing or not, and as some of the characters’ involvement with each other is based on favours earned and repaid from that time I’m not sure if they were being taken advantage of or not. I also didn’t understand the reception Lucy got for being in the police – some neighbours hated her (why??) but some supported her. I didn’t get that bit. But as I say, that was the only downside for me.
I downloaded this from Amazon for 59p, which at that price is something of a gamble. Some are priced at that because they are just awful and have obviously been self-published, but others are priced at that as a tempter for readers to try out more of the author’s work. I’m glad to say that this one fell into the latter category and I would like to read more of Brian McGilloway soon.
Will I read the next in the series?
As far as I know this is a one off and it doesn’t form part of a series, although there are other books available by the same author. If there was a follow up to this one then I would definitely read it. The story itself was sewn up and finished off neatly but the personal stories were left loose and could easily lead into another book. I would certainly like to read more about Lucy and how she is getting on with her father, and I would like to know whether she will stay with the PPU or will she return to CID. She originally hated being seconded to the PPU and was desperate to get back to “proper” policing in CID but I got the impression that her involvement with the families she encountered made her feel more valued and interested in the PPU.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
Yes, absolutely. It does feature some scenes of violence but it isn’t too graphic or detailed so isn’t stomach churning as some other modern crime thrillers can be. It is a stand alone book so you can just dive right in.