Review: The Lost by Claire McGowan (5/5)

Tuesday 8 April 2014
"Not everyone who's missing is lost...

When two teenage girls go missing along the Irish border, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire has to return to the hometown she left years before. Swirling with rumour and secrets, the town is gripped by fear of a serial killer. But the truth could be even darker.

Not everyone who's lost wants to be found...

Surrounded by people and places she tried to forget, Paula digs into the cases as the truth twists further away. What's the link with two other disappearances from 1985? And why does everything lead back to the town's dark past- including the reasons her own mother went missing years before?

Nothing is what it seems...

As the shocking truth is revealed, Paula learns that sometimes, it's better not to find what you've lost."

I bought this book from Amazon after receiving THE DEAD GROUND from bookbridgr which is the second in the Paula McGuire series. This one being the first. I've been planning a trip to Belfast recently and made a list of crime authors I wanted to check out (most people would get guide books/happy books) I went straight for the crime... And so I was extremely excited to start this book which is set in Northern Ireland and has plenty of mentions of Belfast and Dublin. Having mostly read crime fiction in the US or England it was a nice change to read it set elsewhere.

I liked the character of Paula McGuire from the off. At the start of the book she's in her boss's office getting a bollocking for going to a crime scene when she isn't meant to, she's a psychologist not a police officer. Paula however put the needs of a missing person first and we see straightaway that she cares about the people she is trying to find and isn't afraid to break a few rules to find them. Later on we also see that this need to find girls safe and sound is virtually ingrained in her she has a 'need to track and find'. Also I suppose the most interesting parts of crime fiction usually come from first, the killer and second the police and so ways had to be invented for Paula to be at certain scenes so we could see those scenes too. She got into trouble on more than one occasion but it was all to prove her point when others wouldn't listen.

Paula gets asked to return to her hometown where two girls have recently gone missing in a short space of time. Cathy Carr has been missing for a week whilst Majella Ward, from the travelling community has been missing three. Paula is very reluctant to return home as she hasn't been back for years. Her mum went missing years ago and Paula has never found out why. Paula however does return home and the setting of Ballyterrin was brought to life in the book's pages. I like it when the book's setting plays as much of a role in the book as its characters. When Paula arrives home she sees IRA graffiti which says 'Sinn Fein' which means 'we deliver' and someone has wrote pizza beneath it. This reminded me of a picture I saw on Twitter a while back where someone had spray painted 'Join the IRA' and someone had edited it so it said 'Join the lIbRAry'. We see Paula return to her family home where her father, an ex-policeman is recovering from illness. Religion plays a big part in the book and I'm no expert in religious conflict in Northern Ireland (I just have a really Irish name) however it was an interesting dynamic in the book.

Paula then meets her new colleagues and the investigation into what happened to these two girls kicks off. First of all a connection is found between the two girls and a suicide from the summer. And there are eery similarities to cases from 1985. Add in Paula's apprehension at returning home and her own history and you've got a jam-packed book here. Now as always it's hard to discuss the books plot without giving away spoilers so I tend to focus on characterisation and the writing etc. As far as characters go I definitely liked Paula. I enjoyed learning about her past, and the fact that this is the first in a series of books it means that Paula's story will be continued and developed in future books and that's definitely something I can't wait to read more of. As far as plot goes the plot here was very strong. I was kept guessing throughout the book and I could not turn the pages quick enough towards the end. The writing was superb as well. I can never find the right words to describe writing but I always say a book was very 'readable' in that you just lost yourself in the writing and couldn't stop reading. And as for the ending itself, well, I love a good cliffhanger but this one (or should that be two?) here was amazing! I am only glad I have book two to start straightaway as having to wait a while for the follow up would've been excruciating!

As far as first books in a series go this is one of the best I've read. I know Claire has another book called THE FALL which I will definitely be trying to get hold of in the near future but for now I'm going to move straight onto THE DEAD GROUND to continue Paula's story.

You can buy THE LOST from Amazon

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