Review: Taken by Niamh O'Connor
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It is nine o'clock on a cold and wet Sunday night. Twenty-year-old model and single mother Tara Parker Trench pulls into a down-at-heel petrol station on Dublin's quays.
In the time it takes her to run into the counter to pay for her petrol her three-year-old son, Presley, is snatched from his baby seat in the back of her Mini Cooper.
The next morning detective inspector Jo Birmingham, herself a single mother of two desperately juggling motherhood and career, is contacted by the frantic young woman and insinuates herself into the case, despite being expressly forbidden to do so by her boss and former husband, chief superintendent Dan Mason.
Within a few hours Jo uncovers evidence of sloppy police work and illegal practices at the crime scene, the petrol station where Jordon was snatched.
Her investigations also suggest that one of Ireland's most vicious and unstable drug barons, currently serving time in a high-security prison, is involved in the case, and that Jordan's disappearance may have been instigated by some prominent businessmen and politicians regularly featured in the newspaper social columns and glossy celebrity magazines.
As she peels away the layers of the sordid underbelly of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, where cocaine and heroin, sex trafficking and casual violence are endemic, Jo realises that she and her family are in danger, too.
Niamh O'Connor, the true crime editor of the Sunday World, has written five successful true crime books, and burst onto the burgeoning Irish thriller scene last year with her first Jo Birmingham adventure, If I Never See You Again, which was a best-seller.
With Taken, O'Connor has pulled off the elusive feat of delivering a second novel that betters the original.