Review: The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan (5/5)

Wednesday 9 April 2014
"A stolen baby. A murdered woman. A decades-old atrocity. Something connects them all...

A month before Christmas, and Ballyterrin on the Irish border lies under a thick pall of snow. When a newborn baby goes missing from hospital, it's all too close to home for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, who's wrestling with the hardest decision of her life.

Then a woman is found in a stone circle with her stomach cut open and it's clear a brutal killer is on the loose.

As another child is taken and a pregnant woman goes missing, Paula is caught up in the hunt for a killer no one can trace, who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

The Dead Ground will leave you gasping for breath as Paula discovers every decision she makes really is a matter of life and death..."

I received this book from bookbridgr however it's the second in the Paula McGuire series and so I bought THE LOST from Amazon first and read it in no time at all. This second book probably could be read standalone but I do reccommend starting from the beginning! I was very excited to start THE DEAD GROUND and started it right after finishing THE LOST. Claire is a fantastic writer and storyteller and my run of reading some exceptional books over the past few weeks is definitely continuing with these two!

The book opens with probably one of the more horrifying crime scenes that I've read about. And this time it's from the eyes of Paula's father PJ in 1993 when he was still a policeman. It is also the same day that Paula's mother goes missing, voluntarily or by some other means the family still don't know. Her mother's disappearance is an ongoing mystery throughout the book. After the 1993 opening the book jumps forward to 2010 and I couldn't wait to get right back into Paula's story, especially after the events of the previous book. 

I didn't find the book to be incredibly fast-paced, however it wasn't boring because of it. Don't get me wrong I enjoy books where there's a murder every other chapter or a chase that goes on for 100 pages but sometimes it's nice to read a slower paced book. Especially when it feels as real as this. It reminded me of a Lynda La Plante book, another author who really builds their characters up, makes them believable and realistic and gives them a fantastic backstory. I think like Lynda, Paula's books would be great for TV drama. 

In this book it was very much a case of the police vs. the missing person's unit. It's funny as usually in crime fiction the psychologists are looked down upon and people tend to not want to use them however in this book it was a case of Paula being very much in demand from the police and the MPU. Once again religion played a role in the book, especially as some of the story centered on abortions, where women would have to fly to England to have them carried out. Paula further developed as a character in this book, I would've liked to see her develop more however it is only book two and as the book ended on another cliffhanger I can't wait to read more in book three (and there is going to be a book three, right? There has to be!). I liked reading about her relationship with both Guy and Aidan.

As far as writing and plot go, both were as strong here as in THE LOST if not better. I had a couple of theories as so who was responsible and I'm glad to say that if one of them had been right I wouldn't have been happy! Overall though I loved this book and was kept awake until the early hours finishing it. I will definitely be first in the queue for the next Paula McGuire book and cannot reccommend them enough. 

THE DEAD GROUND is released on April 10th and you can buy it from Amazon

You can follow Claire on Twitter or find out more on her website

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