Just finished the last page of Patricia Gibney’s “The missing ones” – and I’m missing the characters already. The novel features Garda Síochána detective inspector Lottie Parker and is set in the fictional town of Ragmullin in the Irish Midlands.
Lottie is one of those wonderful ‘flawed’ protagonists. Still grieving for her late husband, Adam, Lottie throws herself into her work – often to the detriment of her home life with her three teenage children. In her early forties, Lottie has an addictive personality and she valiantly tries to stay away from booze and cigarettes. She doesn’t eat properly and she is always tired. Also, she is slightly OCD – she is constantly counting things.
Lottie and her team are tasked with a murder investigation. The victim, Susan Sullivan, was a terminally ill woman in her fifties. Her body was found in the Catholic cathedral where she was strangled with her iPod cord. Shortly thereafter, they have another body. A co-worker of the dead woman is found hanging from a tree in his garden. It is discovered that not only do the two victims know one another, they both have nearly identical tattoos on their inner thighs AND they were both residents of St. Angela’s Catholic institution as children.
“A banker, a clergyman, and an official”
Secrets abound in Ragmullin and we meet three unnamed men having an even more secretive meeting. They have something they want hidden and, it would seem, would do anything to hide their secret from the world. They don’t trust anyone, not even each other.
Lottie and her team have very little to go on and become more and more frustrated as days pass. When a priest’s body in found under the snow in the same garden as the hanging victim, things become very confusing indeed. What could all these deaths have in common? With an antagonistic superior, and the press hounding them, Lottie and her team face seemingly insurmountable odds.
They are made aware of two ‘cold case’ murders which took place nearly forty years ago and wonder if those two murders and the three they are currently working on could possibly be connected in some way…
Meanwhile Lottie is fretting about her children. Her eldest, Katie, has a new boyfriend and has been smoking weed. Her two younger children are often left to their own devices and she feels guilty and inadequate as a result. She also feels guilty about her growing emotional dependence on her coworker and sometimes lover, Detective Mark Boyd.
While reading this novel, and learning about Lottie Parker, I pictured her as the actress Suranne Jones of “Scott & Bailey” fame.
The themes running through this novel are corruption, desperation, and the lasting damage done to adult survivors of horrific child abuse.
It is truly hard to believe that this is the author’s first novel. Many red herrings and plot twists pepper this eminently readable police procedural. With strong and sympathetic characterization, “The missing ones” marks a solid beginning of a series I plan to follow diligently. In fact, I already have the second novel in the series “The stolen girls” loaded on my Kindle.
My sincere gratitude to Patricia Gibney and her publisher Bookouture for providing me with a digital copy of this novel via NetGalley.
Patricia Gibney is a widow and the mother of three children. She lives in Mullingar, Ireland. She started writing, for therapy, when her husband Aidan died.
She secured an agent in January 2016 and she joined The Irish Writers Centre. She loves reading crime thrillers. The second novel in the series, features Lottie Parker and a host of credible characters. They are all part of her extended family, you know the kind – people you love one minute and want to kill the next!