Almost exactly a year ago, I read the first novel in Patricia Gibney’s Lottie Parker police procedural series. It was fantastic! I’ve been meaning to read the second in the series for some time now – I’m SO glad to report that it was just as good as the first.
Those of you who haven’t yet made the acquaintance of Lottie Parker, I’ll recap.
Lottie Parker is a Garda Síochána detective inspector who lives and works in the fictional town of Ragmullin in the Irish Midlands.
Lottie is one of those wonderful ‘flawed’ protagonists. Four years after his death, she is 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.
“A town where no one saw anything, very few said anything and those who did never told the whole truth.”
This time around, Lottie is back at work after an extended leave which came as a result of the closing events of the first book. It is May in Ragmullin, yet the outside temperatures are more like mid July. Ireland is feeling the effects of a heat wave. Her first day back, she is tasked with a murder enquiry. A young girl’s body has been found by a road works crew in downtown Ragmullin. The girl had been shot in the back and buried in the recently dug-up road. Also, forensic reports say she was four months pregnant, AND has had surgery recently that removed one of her kidneys.
On the home front, Lottie is as out of her depth as ever. Two of her children, Katie and Sean, are still traumatized by events in the first novel, while the third child, sixteen-year-old Chloe, is increasingly secretive, sulky, or volatile.
Meanwhile the Garda have no leads on who the victim is, let alone leads on who might have killed her. When a second body of a young girl is found by Andri Petrovci, the very same road works worker, he becomes a prime suspect. The second girl also shows signs of having a kidney removed.
Lottie’s point of view is not the only one in the book. We come to learn about the desperate and dire experiences of a young boy in Kosov0 in 1999. His experiences were hard to read, and the author more than explicitly describes the atrocities that took place there during that time.
Also, we occasionally read the point of view of a captive young woman who is suffering a violent and heinous abduction.
Lottie Parker’s second in command, Mark Boyd is fighting his own demons, yet remains loyal to Lottie at all times.
“She wondered how she could juggle her day to fit in everything she had to do.”
Lottie is riddled with guilt and is constantly fighting a losing battle with the home/work balance. When she is home she feels she should be working, when she is working, she feels she should be at home. The proverbial ‘Catch-22’. In addition, her fatigue is palpable, as is her growing attraction to DS Mark Boyd.
“She felt her heart breaking for the frightfulness of the world and feared for the very soul of the human race.”
When a young woman, Mimoza Barbatovci, visits Lottie at her home accompanied by her young son, Lottie has one more worry added to the myriad she already has. Mimoza leaves Lottie a note written in Albanian. How did this young woman come to have Lottie’s dead husband’s uniform name badge?
Lottie and Boyd’s investigations take them to a ‘direct provision centre‘ run by a man named Dan Russell. He is an ex-army man who once worked in Kosovo with Lottie’s late husband, Adam.
“Daily routines continued while evil lurked behind closed doors”
When one of Chloe’s school friends goes missing, and another body is found, Lottie’s life spirals out of control. The final pages of the book fairly dripped with tension…
Excellent characterization and a compelling plot are the highlights of this novel. With themes of rape, organized crime, human trafficking, illegal organ harvesting, and self-harm, it was an extremely difficult read at times. It certainly reinforced the idea of ‘mans inhumanity to man‘. I highly recommend this novel, and this series, to readers of crime fiction who are not deterred by graphic violence, and emotionally draining circumstances. I hope that not too much more time passes before I get the opportunity to read the 3rd novel in this stellar series.
Read my review of the first title in the Lottie Parker series: “The missing ones”.
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!