The Silent Dead, by Claire MCGowan, is the third book to feature forensic psychologist Paula Maguire who is working for the police in the missing persons unit. Paula, now pregnant and uncertain who the father is, is working on a case of 5 people who appear to have been abducted. All 5 were cleared of a bomb attack (post the Good Friday agreement) in the small town which caused many deaths & injuries and left many families affected. The story here deals with both the consequences of the modern bombing and the legacies of the past. In a sense this book focuses of the remains of the “Troubles” in the present day. With echoes of the old troubles and more current splinter group issues there seems to be a fairly accurate portrayal of the Northern Ireland of the present.
I missed the 2nd book in this series but I like Paula and I do like the writing so I’ll put that right soon. The book feels atmospheric and thoughtfully written. However it is also dark – bleak & violent at times – and gritty. The use of the counterpoint of then and now is effective. There is a running theme in this book and the first (& I assume the second) in that, while Paula is working in the missing persons unit. She and her family have also been affected by some issues and she herself is on a quest for knowledge. I find this very well done indeed. I guess it goes without saying that she is a bit of a maverick character doing as she sees fit despite the views of those in authority however Claire McGowan writes her well and I certainly find Paula an appealing character. I’d suggest that the writing is getting better in these books. The characters are becoming fuller and more rounded and, for me, they make for good gritty crime reading in a believable setting. I’d like to read the next book and will try and read book 2 as well. I guess they could be read standalone however it would probably be better to read them in order. I’d probably say 4.5/5 all in all.
Note – I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review