The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black

Book Description:

Published: January 13, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 3

A gripping suspense story about a woman who returns to Galveston, Texas after a personal tragedy and is irresistibly drawn into the insular world she’s struggled to leave.

Photographer Clare Porterfield’s once-happy marriage is coming apart, unraveling under the strain of a family tragedy. When she receives an invitation to direct an exhibition in her hometown of Galveston, Texas, she jumps at the chance to escape her grief and reconnect with the island she hasn’t seen for ten years. There Clare will have the time and space to search for answers about her troubled past and her family’s complicated relationship with the wealthy and influential Carraday family.

Soon she finds herself drawn into a century-old mystery involving Stella Carraday. Local legend has it that Stella drowned in her family’s house during the Great Hurricane of 1900, hanged by her long hair from the drawing room chandelier. Could Stella have been saved? What is the true nature of Clare’s family’s involvement? The questions grow like the wildflower vines that climb up the walls and fences of the island. And the closer Clare gets to the answers, the darker and more disturbing the truth becomes.

Steeped in the rich local history of Galveston, The Drowning House portrays two families, inextricably linked by tragedy and time.

Review –

First off, I rarely rate three stars (I always feel bad when I rate below a four) but this book could have been a five if it had lived up to it’s blurb and hype.

Here’s what the author of The Drowning House wished to do: write the story of a grief-stricken, headstrong woman, Clare Porterfield, who returns to her island hometown and gets wrapped up in the mysteries of her past, and those of Galveston’s wealthiest family. These mysteries dovetail, stretching back to the Hurricane of 1900, and Clare hopes that solving them will bring her peace.

It’s a premise with potential. What reader doesn’t enjoy a strong-willed narrator? Who doesn’t like the slow unpeeling of mysteries, or the moody atmospherics of a disaster that continues to inform a community ninety years later? (The story is set in 1990.) The author’s debut offers the ravages of water, fire and wind, and a portrait of Galveston struggling to disentangle itself from a romanticized past.

But the book falls flat.

Claire Porterfield is a photographer, a snoop. She left her native Galveston under a cloud when she was fourteen. Fifteen years later, at a loss for how to live since the death of her six year old daughter, Claire is invited to come home and put her expertise to work creating a photographic exhibit of Galveston’s colorful past.

Lots of personal history awaits her discovery. Her best friend from childhood, Patrick Carraday, still lives on the Island (as the natives call it), working for his rich father, unmarried, going nowhere. Almost accidentally, Claire discovers one tawdry secret after another. But are they really secrets? Is she the only person who thinks so? And why does her mother dance so perfectly with Patrick’s father?

Galveston plays a major role in this novel: steaming, smoldering, blooming outrageously, earning its money by flaunting its seedy, honky-tonk history. People born on the Island (BOI) seem to understand the world, its foibles, and social obligations in an entirely different way than other folk do. The Island has always made its own rules about issues like Prohibition, gambling and prostitution and prides itself on being a place where a visitor can have experiences not available at home.

In the end, I think that’s the problem. Galveston dominates and overshadows the characters. I didn’t care about Clare’s journey or her past. Her loss and her crumbled marriage are so abstract as to almost not be believed. The writing in this is lovely, truly, but somehow the humanity got lost in it.

Sad.

 

 

What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

Family is not what it seems in this raw, edgy thriller that New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline says “you won’t be able to put down.”

When a mutilated body is found hanging in a seedy motel in Philadelphia, forensics specialist Liam Dwyer assumes the crime scene will be business as usual. Instead, the victim turns out to be a woman he’d had an affair with before breaking it off to save his marriage. But there’s a bigger problem: Liam has no memory of where he was or what he did on the night of the murder.

Panicked, Liam turns to his brother, Sean, a homicide detective. Sean has his back, but incriminating evidence keeps piling up. From fingerprints to DNA, everything points to Liam, who must race against time and his department to uncover the truth – even if that truth is his own guilt. Yet as he digs deeper, dark secrets come to light, and Liam begins to suspect the killer might actually be Sean …

When the smoke clears in this harrowing family drama, who will be left standing?

Review –

“As young boys, Sean and Liam survived traumas that no child should endure. After the death of their father, their mother’s mental instability nearly cost Liam his life. However, older brother Sean saved him, creating an unbreakable bond between the brothers. Liam has always looked up to Sean and sought his guidance. Sean, never able to sustain a relationship with a woman, has been Liam’s rock, the charismatic leader in which Liam and fellow members of the force put their trust.

The story starts strong with Liam unable to remember where he went or what he did during the prior evening, and then being summoned to the site of the horrid murder. He is shocked when he arrives on scene and discovers that the victim is none other than Kerri, the woman with whom he had an affair. Liam loved Kerri, but he has committed to trying to make his marriage to Vanessa work. They are attending counseling and Vanessa appears fully invested in their relationship. Aside from Vanessa, only Sean and his partner, Don, knew about Liam’s relationship with Kerri. In the wake of her death and his inability to remember the events of the night she was killed, Liam of course turns to Sean for help. Sean assures Liam that he can rely on Sean. “We only have each other, Liam. So because of that, we only have each other to count on. I’ll be there for you, and you be there for me. Got it?”

When Liam’s fingerprints and DNA are found at the murder scene, and he discovers his bloody clothes in the trunk of his vehicle, his panic is palpable and credibly depicted by Farrell. Liam wracks his brain in an attempt to remember the events of the evening, and worries that he is losing his mind. Worse, he confronts the question of whether he could have committed such an unthinkable crime. He is convinced that he does not have the capacity — even in some form of altered state — to be violent, much less a killer. Through it all, he leans on Sean, telling him, “I think I’m being framed, Sean. It’s the only explanation.” He shares details of his own investigation, as he frantically tries to gather evidence of his innocence.

When mounting evidence points toward him, Liam runs, but Sean tries to convince him to surrender. Farrell believably details both Liam’s increasingly desperate mental state, as well as the breakdown in trust between the brothers when Liam discovers evidence that points directly at Sean. Forced to consider that his own brother has set him up to take the fall, Farrell inserts heart-breaking and shocking details that propel the story forward and heighten reader interest.

As Sean gradually unravels, Farrell capably takes readers on Liam’s pulse-pounding and heartbreaking journey to the truth. The result is a thriller that is, overall, enjoyable, and may inspire readers to ponder their own familial relationships after Farrell reveals the brothers’ ultimate fate.” jhsiess.com

Great read!

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg

Book Description:

Published: January 14,2020

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 3

When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case. In short order, they establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her landlady, Esther de Laurenti, who’s a bit too fond of drink and the host of raucous dinner parties with her artist friends. Esther also turns out to be a budding novelist—and when Julie turns up as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows both more urgent and more dangerous.

But Esther’s role in this twisted scenario is not quite as clear as it first seems. Is she the culprit—or just another victim, trapped in a twisted game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the identity of the brutal puppet-master pulling the strings in this electrifying literary thriller.

Review –

“A vicious killer follows a writer’s murderous manuscript to the letter in Danish author Engberg’s U.S. debut.

It’s only been about a year since University of Copenhagen professor Esther de Laurenti retired, and she’s been writing a novel, something she’s always dreamed of. When Esther’s tenant, 21-year-old Julie Stender, is murdered, Esther is shocked.

Heading up the investigation is Copenhagen detectives Jeppe Kørner and his partner of eight years, Anette Werner, and it’s proving to be a doozy. The murder was particularly heinous: The killer stabbed Julie and carved strange designs into her face and, frustratingly, seems to have been very careful not to leave any physical evidence at the scene. Of course, as investigators start digging into Julie’s life, they discover some suitably shady secrets in her past, and it’s suggested that one of her boyfriends might have felt scorned enough to resort to murder. Perhaps it was her new boyfriend, who is supposedly a much older, sophisticated man. Too bad nobody knows who he is.

When Esther reveals that the details of the murder closely mirror her work in progress, it opens a whole new avenue of investigation, and when Esther attempts to draw the killer out, it puts her firmly in the crosshairs. Engberg’s background as a former dancer and choreographer gives a boost to her considerable flair for the dramatic (keep an eye out for a theatrically staged murder at the Royal Danish Theater) and highlights a strong focus on Copenhagen’s creative community; even Jeppe wanted to be a musician before he became a cop. His fairly recent divorce almost ruined him, and Anette’s upbeat and pragmatic style is no small annoyance to her moody partner, which is played for light comic effect (as is Jeppe’s reawakening libido), leavening the heavier subject matter. Overly familiar plot elements keep this from being a standout, and some twists require a significant suspension of disbelief, but Engberg’s fast-paced narrative is bolstered by an interesting and quirky cast as well as an intriguing setting.

A bit over-the-top but still a lot of fun.” Kirkus Reviews

It was okay but I don’t think I’ll read others in the series.

 

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Book Description:

Published: February 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

n the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

Review –

Abigail Knight, the protagonist of this complex, emotionally intense debut novel by Christina McDonald is determined to get answers after her seventeen-year-old daughter, Olivia, who recently seemed unusually distracted and moody, is found, brain-dead and pregnant, at the bottom of an embankment below the ZigZag bridge in her hometown of Portage Point, Washington. Meanwhile, Abi manages the grief of seeing Olivia being maintained on life support just long enough to allow her granddaughter to live.

The chapters told from Olivia’s viewpoint in the months leading up to the accident, during which she struggles with friendships and romantic relationships while piecing together the truth about her absent father, convey the cadence and the awkward urgency of teenage thought and behavior without exaggerating it. Every carefully fleshed-out character behaves authentically, yielding a satisfying sense of tragedy rather than one of villainy. McDonald dives into the mother-daughter conflict without compromising the reader’s compassion for either of them. Fans of twisty domestic suspense novels will be rewarded.

A fantastic read and I can’t wait to delve into the author’s newest book, Behind Every Lie!

 

Starter House by Sonja Condit

Book Description:

Published: december 31, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the vein of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale, Starter House is a haunting and skillfully told debut novel about a newlywed couple and their first home — a home that seems to be haunted by a very malicious ghost.

Lacey Miszlak grew up homeless; her crazy mother dragged her from one terrible living situation to the next. But now she thinks the pieces of her life have finally come together. She’s pregnant with her first child, and she and her husband Eric have moved into the home of their dreams. She knows soon its beautiful sunlit rooms will be filled with the joy of the new family she will build there.

But there’s a strange darkness on the stairway and an odd little boy who won’t leave Lacey alone, and soon she’s forced to realize that a danger she never suspected is lurking in the hallways of her beautiful new home. She’s going to have to solve a decades-old mystery to save her family from an evil that has lingered in wait for them for years.

Review –

In Condit’s creepy debut, a young couple’s dream home turns out to be haunted.

The cottage at 571 Forrester Lane in the Southern town of Greeneburg is perfect for Lacey and Eric Miszlak. She’s pregnant and wants to be near the best schools; he wants a 20-minute commute to his uncle’s law firm. Lacey brushes aside the spooked reaction of their broker (who knows more than she’s telling) but discovers after they move in that the house harbors a ghost: Drew, a needy little boy who asks her to be his mother. Lacey, a former elementary school teacher, prides herself on being good with difficult children, but she quickly learns to fear Drew’s rages and his hostility toward her unborn child. “The thing in the house. It eats babies,” blurts out the broker’s daughter. The trouble started in 1972, when Andrew Halliday killed his wife, three of his four children and himself. Only Andrew Junior survived the massacre; he’s changed his name to Lex Hall and has retained Eric in a custody battle over his young daughter. Yes, it’s a lot of coincidences to swallow, and Drew’s ability to travel as far afield as Australia seems more convenient than likely even within the parameters of a ghost story, but Condit paints such a convincing portrait of the Miszlaks’ tension-riddled marriage and does such a good job of escalating the menace in Lacey’s encounters with Drew that readers won’t care much about probability. The novel has unusually strong characterizations as well, in particular the depiction of Lacey’s New Age–y mother, Ella, who proves to be stronger and more protective than her daughter could understand in childhood. Eric too, controlling and overcautious though he is, comes through with flying colors in the violent denouement at the top of the stairs that have seen so many previous deaths.

Good, scary fun, packed with emotional nuance.” Kirkus Reviews

Fantastic read!

 

 

 

Freefall by Jessica Barry

Book Description:

Published: January 8, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A propulsive debut novel with the intensity of Luckiest Girl Alive and Before the Fall, about a young woman determined to survive and a mother determined to find her.

When your life is a lie, the truth can kill you

When her fiancé’s private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies, Allison Carpenter miraculously survives. But the fight for her life is just beginning. For years, Allison has been living with a terrible secret, a shocking truth that powerful men will kill to keep buried. If they know she’s alive, they will come for her. She must make it home.

In the small community of Owl Creek, Maine, Maggie Carpenter learns that her only child is presumed dead. But authorities have not recovered her body—giving Maggie a shred of hope. She, too, harbors a shameful secret: she hasn’t communicated with her daughter in two years, since a family tragedy drove Allison away. Maggie doesn’t know anything about her daughter’s life now—not even that she was engaged to wealthy pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner, or why she was on a private plane.

As Allison struggles across the treacherous mountain wilderness, Maggie embarks on a desperate search for answers. Immersing herself in Allison’s life, she discovers a sleek socialite hiding dark secrets. What was Allison running from—and can Maggie uncover the truth in time to save her?

Told from the perspectives of a mother and daughter separated by distance but united by an unbreakable bond, Freefall is a riveting debut novel about two tenacious women overcoming unimaginable obstacles to protect themselves and those they love.

Review –

We meet Allison when she emerges from the wreckage of her fiancé’s aircraft in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. There is a man near her – his face is missing. Her body is bruised, her rations almost non-existent. Yet Allison reminds herself to move, breathe and walk. She has a plan, which takes her trekking in the Rockies in a pair of leggings, a sports bra and a T-shirt, with four Luna bars and a bag of mixed nuts in her bag. Allison walks, sleeps and somehow survives in the Colorado mountains. Anyone in her situation would be desperate for help, but – as we soon learn – Allison doesn’t want to be found. There are men looking for her, and they want her dead.

Back in Maine is Maggie, Allison’s mother, who can’t bring herself to believe – despite what news reports say – that her daughter, from whom she had been estranged for two years, died in a plane crash. Maggie’s voice alternates with Allison’s, allowing Barry to show the full dimensions of her characters, and the complexity of unravelling family dynamics.

Alison is desperate as she embarks on a battle to survive, with barely any supplies, full of fear, facing the forests, hunger and inclement weather, whilst danger stalks her every footstep. Will she manage to reach safety and home? Maggie becomes aware of just how difficult and rough Alison’s life became in the two years, right up until her engagement to Ben. Maggie’s storyline eventually connects with Alison as the truth eventually emerges. This is a story of complicated mother and daughter relationships, secrets, deception, betrayal, and intrigue, where little is as it seems. The two protagonists, Maggie and Alison are strong and resilient women, and their characters are compelling. I found this a fast paced, intense and gripping read with twists. It is far from perfect, but it nevertheless held me captive til the end.

The resolution is full of satisfying twists. The ending is unexpected and farfetched but remember this is FICTION. Enjoy it!

Great read.

The Wild Inside (Glacier Mystery #1) by Christine Carbo

Book Description:

Published: June 16, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

A haunting crime novel set in Glacier National Park about a man who finds himself at odds with the dark heart of the wild—and the even darker heart of human nature.

It was a clear night in Glacier National Park. Fourteen-year-old Ted Systead and his father were camping beneath the rugged peaks and starlit skies when something unimaginable happened: a grizzly bear attacked Ted’s father and dragged him to his death.

Now, twenty years later, as Special Agent for the Department of the Interior, Ted gets called back to investigate a crime that mirrors the horror of that night. Except this time, the victim was tied to a tree before the mauling. Ted teams up with one of the park officers—a man named Monty, whose pleasant exterior masks an all-too-vivid knowledge of the hazardous terrain surrounding them. Residents of the area turn out to be suspicious of outsiders and less than forthcoming. Their intimate connection to the wild forces them to confront nature, and their fellow man, with equal measures of reverence and ruthlessness.

As the case progresses with no clear answers, more than human life is at stake—including that of the majestic creature responsible for the attack. Ted’s search for the truth ends up leading him deeper into the wilderness than he ever imagined, on the trail of a killer, until he reaches a shocking and unexpected personal conclusion.

As intriguing and alluring as bestselling crime novels by C.J. Box, Louise Penny, and William Kent Krueger, as atmospheric and evocative as the nature writing of John Krakauer and Cheryl Strayed, The Wild Inside is a gripping debut novel about the perilous, unforgiving intersection between man and nature.

Review –

Grizzly bears, murder, mauling, and mayhem mix in this author’s debut novel.

Ted Systead’s past and present intersect in an unexpected—and chilling—manner against the gorgeous backdrop of Glacier National Park in Montana. When Systead was a boy of fourteen, his father, a pathologist, was dragged off and killed by a grizzly bear in Glacier.

Now, decades later, Systead is a homicide investigator for the Department of the Interior based out of Denver. When the body of drug user and general low life, Victor Lance, is found shredded by a park grizzly after having been secured to a tree with duct tape, Systead must push back against his own demons to work the case. In the process, he reluctantly teams with Park Officer Monty Harris, who he suspects is little but a spy for his boss, Eugene Ford. But, as they work their ways through the people who populated Lance’s life (his mother, former girlfriend, and others), Systead gains a grudging respect for Monty and finds himself unraveling other peoples’ lives in order to get at the truth.This author likes detail and packs the book with trivia about the park and its wildlife inhabitants, which prove interesting.  The author also provides background details on some of the numerous characters, bringing them to life for the reader/listerner.

This book was stunning from the beginning until the very end. I’ve never been to Montana, or Glacier Park, but let’s just say it’s in my heart after reading this book. Superbly written; it has everything you’d love in a murder mystery, and then some. I’ll say again, if you haven’t heard of Christine Carbo or read one of her books, you’re missing out

Join Special Agent  Ted Systead for the Department of the Interior as he investigates a mind-boggling crime involving a grizzly and a hidden perp. Great twist at the end!

Christine’s writing rivals that of bestselling crime novels of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr.

Five stars !!!!!

 

 

 

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Book Description:

Published: January 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Good Me, Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

Review –

“Land asks if we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers—or, in this case, mothers—in her assured, creepy debut.

Fifteen-year-old Annie has a new home in London—and a new name, Milly—now that she’s turned her mother in to the police. Psychologist Mike Newmont, his troubled wife, Saskia, and their daughter, Phoebe, have taken Milly in until her mother’s trial begins in 12 weeks. Only Mike and a few others know who Milly really is: the daughter of a nurse who murdered nine young children. Mike will be overseeing Milly’s therapy until the trial and is eager for her to fit into his family. However, Milly, who narrates the book, senses that something isn’t right between Saskia and Phoebe, and Phoebe, along with her friends, immediately starts a campaign of terror against the newcomer, whom she sees as an intruder in her family. Milly does find a friend in a younger girl, Morgan, who obviously has family problems of her own, but as the trial looms, Milly struggles to be the good person she longs to be even as the voice of her mother pushes her to give in to her darker urges. Can Milly find her own way, or is she a slave to her upbringing? Land, a mental health nurse, puts her knowledge to good use in her portrayal of Milly, who was raised by a sexually abusive monster who recruited her to play a role in her unspeakable crimes. A sense of creeping dread drives the narrative, and that most fascinating of crime-novel subjects, the female serial killer, casts a formidable shadow. Milly wages a war within herself that she may or may not win. Readers will be more than happy to go along for the ride and may be surprised how they feel about the conclusion, proving the unmistakable spell that Land has cast.

Sly, unsettling, and impossible to put down.” Kirkus Reviews

Great read with a surprise at the end !

 

 

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format:   Audio/OverDrive

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Review –

Murder, mayhem, and chalk figures in a sleepy English village.

“In 1986, 12-year-old Eddie Adams enjoys spending time with his group of friends: Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and the lone girl in the group, Nicky. He’s largely insulated from his mother’s work as an abortion provider and its accompanying risks, and it’s her income that keeps the household afloat, since his father’s freelance writing jobs are hit and miss. When Eddie finds the decapitated and dismembered body of a local girl in the woods, it stirs up terrible secrets and forbidden passions.

In 2016, Eddie is a teacher who harbors a mild crush for his much younger boarder, Chloe, and isn’t eager to revisit the traumatic events of ’86. He still feels particularly bad about his part in the downfall of a teacher with albinism who was kind to him. When he’s contacted by Mickey Cooper, who claims he knows who really killed that girl, it opens old wounds, and a body count follows.

Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT. The dynamics among the kids are similar, complete with Nicky’s flaming red hair, and Eddie’s first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. The chalk markings the group works out to communicate tap into kids’ universal love for secret code and, of course, getting one over on their parents. Things takes a creepy turn when the symbols are twisted to fit someone’s not-so-innocent agenda.

A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980s will enjoy the nostalgia.” Kirkus Review

The ending is creepily eerie and changed my mind about Eddie. (no spoilers -you’ll have to read or listen to the book to see what I mean)

Five stars.

The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1) by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: July 3, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

It’s been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he’s never forgotten the two children she left behind…

When Aisling Conroy’s boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget – until Jack’s sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an ‘accidental’ overdose twenty years ago – of Jack and Maude’s drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything…

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey.

Review –

Dervla McTiernan’s powerful debut  novel has the authentic feel of its Irish setting, which I loved.

In 1993, police detective Cormac Reilly is called to a house in Kilmore, County Mayo, where he finds fifteen-year-old Maude Blake and her five-year-old brother, Jack, alive, and  in an upstairs bedroom lies the body of their alcoholic mother, dead of a drug overdose. In 2013, Jack’s body turns up in a Galway river after an anonymous caller claims he saw Jack jump in. Jack’s girlfriend, Aisling Conroy, is sadly willing to accept the obvious conclusion that it was suicide. But Maude, newly back from Australia, is convinced it was murder. Based on new information, Cormac investigates the now twenty-year-old death of the mother, while Maude and Aisling try to figure out what actually happened to Jack, since the police seem unwilling to. Various other threads in the tightly woven plot lead to rape, child molestation, drug dealing, police corruption, and more murders. The author neatly ties them all together in the suspenseful conclusion. Dervla McTiernan,(I love her name) born in Ireland but now living in Australia, is a writer to watch. 

Five stars.