On my first trip to Ireland, I found myself in a bookstore discovering a number of new authors to me, including couple of great mystery writers, Liz Nugent and Brian McGilloway. While, Nugent has yet to break the North American market, McGilloway has been quietly building a fan base with his Benedict Devlin and DS Lucy Black series. Both writers are very distinctly Irish and the landscape, the language and the history of Ireland figure into the subplots giving a flavour to the books that adds to experience.
“Someone You Know” is the second in the Lucy Black series and begins about two weeks before Christmas, when the body of an at-risk sixteen-year-old girl is found lying on the train tracks. The body was placed there just before a scheduled train run but a railroad mechanical failure prevented the murder from looking like a suicide. The girl was known to the police due to her tragic home life and had disappeared from a care home a few days before her death. It quickly becomes clear that as well as the victim a number of other girls are being groomed by a stalker and that the police are in a race against time to prevent more murders. The identity of the killer seems obvious at first until a series of twists take both the reader and the police into unexpected directions.
Lucy Black grounds the book with a deep back story that is woven into her persona and effects how she works through the mystery. She is a damaged character, carrying the scars of a broken childhood with conflicted feelings about her father, who is suffering from dementia and her mother who abandoned the family but is now working as an administrator for the police force. The secrets she carries have made it difficult to trust anyone but empathic to the victimized and abused women and children that make up her caseload.
When I saw the book on the shelves at Eason, (the Irish equivalent of Chapters), the novel was called Hurt, but whatever the title it’s a great read and the perfect choice to introduce you to a fabulous series.