Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review of Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway (2011, Macmillan)

Detective Sergeant Lucy Black has moved to Derry so she can be nearer to her father.  An ex-policeman forced away from the area at the height of the Troubles, he has returned home and now has dementia.  Her estranged mother has also returned, but as Assistant Chief Constable, and is now Lucy’s boss.  It’s not an ideal scenario and its made more challenging when Lucy is transferred internally away from CID at her mother’s behest.  First at the scene of a reported sighting of a local girl who’s been kidnapped she’d discovered another younger girl walking in the woods in the snow in bloodstained pyjamas.  Whilst CID search for the kidnapped girl, Lucy tries to determine who the young girl is and why she was in the woods.  Tracking down her own leads she keeps circling back to the kidnapping, much to the chagrin of her superiors.  But Lucy is her own woman and she’s determined to get to the truth of the little girl lost.

After five Inspector Devlin books set along the Irish border, Brian McGilloway turned his attention to a new series featuring Detective Sergeant Lucy Black set in Derry.  Like the Devlin books, the legacy of the Troubles haunts the tale, as it would for just about story involving the police in Northern Ireland, and McGilloway does a good job of weaving the past with the present.  He also does a decent job of balancing the narrative between Lucy Black’s work and personal life, and in so doing ensures two strong hooks: a pair of interwoven police cases (a young girl found wandering in the snow in ancient woodland and a kidnapped teenager), along with the unfolding personal challenges of an engaging lead character.  The result is a nicely constructed police procedural with a compelling plot, a good sense of place and time, and a great deal of heart.  The only downsides were a little too many coincidences intertwining the professional and personal and an extra twist at the end felt a little forced.  Nonetheless, a solid start to what seems set to be a strong series.

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