For my third “Reading Ireland Month” selection I have chosen “The liar’s girl“. Set in the city of Dublin, it seemed a good choice, and an excellent opportunity for me to read my first novel by Catherine Ryan Howard.
“They call him the Canal Killer”
The story began back in 2007 when the protagonist, Alison Smith was in her freshman year at St. John’s College, Dublin. She was away from her home in Cork for the first time, her best friend Liz was at college with her, and she had met a boy and fallen in love. Her life was rosy… until… a spate of murders. Young women were found in the dark waters of the Grand Canal in Dublin. They were all young female St. John’s College students, the last being the murder of her best-friend from childhood, Liz.
And, horrible as that was, what was even more horrible was that her boyfriend Will Hurley was arrested for the crimes. They told her he even confessed! Unable to face up to life in Ireland, Alison moved away to Breda, The Netherlands. She didn’t return to Ireland even to see her parents. She met them elsewhere for family holidays. She stays after she finishes college at den Haag and gets a job. Now twenty-nine years old, she has friends, a life in Amsterdam. She is as happy as she ‘can‘ be.
Until – she opens her door one morning to find two Irish Gardaí on her doorstep. They say that there has been two new murders in Dublin that are similar to the five from ten years ago. Will Hurley has said that he has information about these murders but that he will only tell this information to her. The Gardaí want her to go back to Ireland and speak to Will who has been incarcerated at a Psychiatric Hospital. Reluctantly, she goes.
Alison is shocked to learn that Malone, the youngest of the two Gardai doesn’t think that the latest murders are ‘copycat’ killings. He believes that Will Hurley is innocent and that the same person is killing now – as was then. Alison blames herself as she didn’t corroborate Will’s alibi. Filled with remorse she does her best to help the Gardaí’s current investigation.
I won’t tell you any more of the story so as not to ruin it for you. Suffice it to say that Alison does help Gardaí Malone – until her own life is in jeopardy. Articulately told via two time frames (Alison then & Alison now), this novel relayed its story vividly. The story comes to a solid conclusion and the reader is satisfied… yet there is more. All can not be so easily explained away. A final revelation puts a neat twist in the tale.
This is the author’s second novel and I am now keen to read her debut. Her pacing was spot on, her characters fully realized, and her settings eloquently described. The story was interesting to me because I could imagine it really happening – it didn’t seem far-fetched as some serial killer thrillers seem to be.
Since this is the 3rd time in a row I awarded 5 stars to a review I was a little tempted to give this one less than 5 stars so as to not come across as ‘gushy’. Then I realized that would be unfair to the author, myself, and all of Fictionophile’s followers who depend on my to be honest to my own opinions. So 5 stars it is! I seem to be on a role of great reads!
I received a digital ARC of this novel from Blackstone Publishing via Edelweiss.
Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.