Gwen Moffat lives in Cumbria. Her novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. The crimes fit their environment, swelling that dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside cited by Sherlock Holmes. The style echoes this: rustic charm masking horror.
Paula Maguire, forensic psychologist, is seconded to a small border town in Northern Ireland to join a team investigating the disappearance of two girls.
One body is found shortly but the second, a travelling girl, is still missing (her people fiercely hostile) and Maguire discovers that recently there was a third death when a child was found hanging in her dad’s garage: all “good” girls and members of a happy-clappy youth club. Initially this is as much as Maguire has to work with and even to hint at further steps in unravelling the plot would be counter-productive. Suffice it to say that for a psychologist Maguire is in poor shape herself, haunted by her own mysterious past, now thrust into a macho world where she succumbs to an equally tormented D.I. while holding a torch for the louche editor of a failing local newspaper.
A novel weak on literary merit, strong on readability, the narrative echoing dialogue that, with its verbal gyrations and feral pronouns, is as alien as the fortified cop shops and incessant reminders of The Troubles with their attendant dreadful sins that never went away.