Paula Maguire is a forensic psychologist working with the Missing Persons Response Unit in Ballyterrin, a small town in Northern Ireland’s border country. She usually investigates old cases, but when a newborn baby goes missing from a hospital, Paula is assigned the case.
To complicate things further, she is pregnant and not sure who the father is. Then a woman is ritualistically, brutally murdered, and the pressure becomes intense. Someone in this tight-knit community is taking very young babies and even cutting them, unborn, from their mothers.
Paula follows this bloody trail with little to go on, while she is agonizing over a deeply personal decision. The history and culture of Northern Ireland are explored, along with themes of religion and fanaticism, but at its soul, this is a tale of motherhood and loss. All of the victims are children and pregnant women, which makes for very dark reading.
This is the second book of the series (after The Lost,) and probably should be read in order. While not for the faint of heart, this compulsively readable thriller should appeal to Meg Gardiner or Val McDermid fans.
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8/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE DEAD GROUND by Claire McGowan. Headline Book Publishing; First Edition edition (April 1, 2014). ISBN 978-1472218568. 400p.