Keith Miles is probably best recognised by readers under the pen name of Edward Marston. He writes several well-received historical mysteries spanning the 11th century through to the 19th century. His website is www.edwardmarston.com
Readers unfamiliar with the crisis-strewn life of Inspector Ben Devlin are advised to make his acquaintance at the earliest opportunity. He's a tough, no-nonsense,maverick cop, policing the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland and ready to take the law into his own hands if occasion demands it.
Thanks to the Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains, casualties of the Troubles are being dug up on a small island in the middle of the River Foyle. Evidence resulting from the Commission's finds cannot lead to a prosecution. It's an iron rule.
When a tiny human skull is unearthed, Devlin wants to break the rule. Foul play is involved and the victim also suffered from Goldenhar syndrome, a condition whose symptoms include grotesque facial deformities. Battling to get justice for one child, Devlin is confronted with a whole group of dead children with the same rare disease. How did so many cases occur in such a small area?
It's only one of the questions that Devlin has to answer as long-dead victims are joined by fresh corpses. With limited resources at his disposal, and with inevitable cross-border problems, he soldiers on and follows his hunches. Serious upset in the Devlin household acts as a counterpoint to the main action and there is plenty of that. The pace gradually quickens throughout and the mystery thickens. There are scenes that a unnecessarily perfunctory and a little more delineation of key support characters would be welcome but this is a cracking novel with an important theme and an unexpected resolution.