Friday, August 9, 2013
Review of The Lost by Claire McGowan (Headline, 2013)
There’s a lot to like about The Lost. Paula Maguire is an engaging character with a strong personality and interesting personal history, and Ballyterrin, a fictional Irish border town, has its fill of sectarian ghosts and secrets. The support characters are a little clichéd, but generally well realised, and the story has a nice swirl of main plot and subplots. In particular, the contextualisation with respect to the role of the mission and the history of the treatment of young women by families and the Church is well done. That said, the story is a little overwrought at times, veering towards melodrama (especially in the last quarter), and it’s hard to believe that Paula wouldn’t have been reined in more tightly by her police colleagues given her propensity to stray (she’s not a police officer and she’s in Northern Ireland, the most officious and rule bound police force in the UK). Nevertheless, it’s an engaging read that I sense might be the first in a series; if so, I look forward to the next instalment. Both Paula Maguire and the storytelling reminded me quite a bit of Elly Griffiths ‘Ruth Galloway’ series and I suspect if you like those books you’ll enjoy The Lost.