Maguire back for another gripping ride
Thriller The Dead Ground Claire McGowan Headline, tpbk, €19.30, 384 pages
Claire McGowan is a very good thriller writer who, thus far, has remained somewhat under the radar. All that may be about to change, however, thanks to the BBC.
Born in Rostrevor, Co Down, in 1981, she did English and French at Oxford University, lived in China and France for a while and then moved to London where she worked in the charity sector (and got on with her writing).
Her debut novel, The Fall, about a woman in Hampstead whose life falls apart when her wealthy banker boyfriend is accused of murder, was published in January 2012 to rave reviews.
Her second novel, The Lost, published early last year, was the first to feature police forensic psychologist Paula Maguire.
It was set in the border town of Ballyterrin in Northern Ireland, which Maguire had left nearly 20 years earlier with no intention of seeing again. But when two girls go missing she becomes part of the team set up to investigate the disappearances and finds herself back from London in her home town again. The Troubles are over in the North but the place holds a number of personal issues for Maguire.
That book again won a lot of praise and has been optioned by the BBC for a TV series, which is the reason why McGowan may soon be a much bigger name.
Her third book, The Dead Ground, which has just appeared, is the second Maguire thriller.
It's a month before Christmas, it is snowing hard and Ballyterrin is facing a number of incidents. A newborn baby is stolen; a doctor who provides abortion counselling is found dead, her belly slashed open; another child is taken; and a pregnant woman goes missing. It's all almost too much for Maguire, who herself is facing a crisis as she tries to make the hardest decision of her life.
It is clear that a determined killer is at work, and for Maguire the more she becomes immersed in the investigations the more the cases have personal ramifications that reach far into her past.
It's a gripping and gory read and shows McGowan to be a thriller writer of exceptional talent.
She is currently the director of the UK Crime Writers' Association and also teaches on the new Crime Writing MA degree course at City University in London.
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