Category Archives: Claire McGowan

Though Alan, He Was Protestant, and Sean was Catholic Born*

The Reformation of the 16th and early 17th Century had a profound and lasting impact on Christianity, especially (but not exclusively) in Europe. Whether you have religious beliefs or not, and no matter what those beliefs are, it’s hard to deny the influence of the Reformation on politics, culture, economics and much more.

It’s not surprising that such a significant change would also find its way into crime fiction. The Reformation affected (still does) everyday life in so many ways that it seems natural that we would see it in the genre.

C.J. Sansom’s Mathew Shardlake, for instance, is a London attorney who lives and works in Tudor London, during the reign of King Henry VIII. The Church of England has been established as the official religion of the kingdom, and the king is determined to remove ‘popery’ – allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, that’s one of the main themes of Dissolution, the first in this series. In it, Shardlake is commissioned to travel to a monastery in Swansea to investigate the murder of a man named Robin Singleton. He’d been sent to oversee the dissolution of that monastery, and the delivery of its property and money to the king. The first and most likely explanation is that someone at the monastery killed Singleton to prevent his completing his mission. But, as Shardlake finds out, there are certainly other possibilities. As the series goes on, we see just how important and controversial a topic religion and the Church of England are in Henry VIII’s England.

We see that also in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which also takes place during Henry VIII’s reign. This is the fictional retelling of the story of Thomas Cromwell, one of the king’s most trusted advisors. Mostly through his eyes, we see how the king consolidated power and declared England free of allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. Cromwell acquired a great deal of power and authority, but it was a very dangerous time. If you know your history, you know that not even the king’s ‘inner circle’ was safe. Among other things, this novel takes an interesting look at the controversy surrounding religion, and the impact the Reformation was having on society. It’s not, strictly speaking, a crime novel. Even so, several crimes are committed in the course of the story.

Shona MacLean (now writing as S.G. MacLean) also provides an interesting perspective on the Reformation in her Alexander Seaton novels. Beginning with The Redemption of Alexander Seaton, the series tells the story of Seaton, who is a teacher in 17th Century Banff, Scotland. It’s a fiercely Protestant place, and there’s quite a lot of concern, even fear, of Roman Catholic plots to take over the country. All of this figures into The Redemption of Alexander Seaton, in which the local apothecary’s assistant, Patrick Davidson, is poisoned. The music master, Charles Thom, is accused of the murder and even imprisoned. He says that he is innocent, and he asks his friend Seaton to clear his name. As Seaton starts to ask questions, he learns that Davidson might have been supplying maps to Scotland’s enemy, Spain. And Spain’s king would like nothing more than to bring Scotland back to the Catholic Church. If Davidson did provide aid to Spain, and anyone found out about it, that would be more than sufficient motive for killing him. Seaton finds that there are other possibilities, too. This isn’t an easy mystery to solve, and Seaton runs into danger as he investigates.

Marian Babson’s Untimely Guest, published in 1976, is the story of a large Irish family led by a tyrannical matriarch known as Mam. The real action in the story begins when the oldest daughter, Bridget ‘Bridie,’ returns from the convent where she’s been for ten years. She tells the family she had to leave because the convent was closing, and Mam’s prepared to accept that story. But there’s more to the story than that. Meanwhile, Bridie’s brothers, Kevin and Patrick, have both married Protestant women (Eleanor and Carmel, respectively). The fact that they’re not Catholic makes them, in a very real sense, outsiders. And it certainly doesn’t do much to ease tension. Against this backdrop, another sister, DeeDee, also returns to the ‘family fold’ to introduce her new fiancé, James. That fact adds even more tension, since she divorced her first husband, Terence. He doesn’t accept the fact of their divorce, and still considers them married. So does Mam. One evening, DeeDee is killed by a fall (or push?) down a staircase. As it happens, several members of the family were on hand at the time, so there is more than one suspect and motive. As we slowly learn the truth, it’s interesting to see how the fact of the Catholic/Protestant divide plays out at the so-called micro level.

The Reformation is also one of the factors that has impacted relations between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. The Troubles of the last few decades of the 20th Century had several underlying causes, political, economic, religious, and more. But one critical factor was the schism between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Even today, there are echoes of the tragedy of the Troubles. And we see that in several crime fiction novels and series. Brian McGilloway, Stuart Neville, Adrian McKinty, and Claire McGowan are just a few of the authors who have placed their novels in Northern Ireland or at the border. In those novels, we see the powerful loyalties people have to one or another group, and we see how the Reformation has impacted lives, even centuries later.

When you think of the Reformation, you might not automatically think of its impact today. But it still has one. And it’s not a surprise to see that such a major event also impacts crime fiction. These are a few examples. I know you’ll think of more.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Tommy Sands’ There Were Roses.


Filed under Adrian McKinty, Brian McGilloway, C.J. Sansom, Claire McGowan, Hilary Mantel, Marian Babson, S.G. MacLean, Shona MacLean, Stuart Neville

But We Do Our Own Thing, And We’re Having Fun*

Throughout much of history, there’ve been social and professional groups that haven’t conformed to what the rest of society was doing. I’m not talking here of religious groups; to me, that’s a different matter. Rather, I mean groups who have a unique professional or social (sometimes both!) culture that can set them apart from ‘the rest of us.’

Groups like that can become insular; but even when they don’t, they generally have their own sort of culture and unwritten rules. And that can make it a challenge for ‘outsiders,’ who might not understand that culture and those rules. Such groups can make for really interesting additions to a crime story, though. When the story’s done effectively, readers can learn a little about a different sort of lifestyle. And the author can add some tension as members of this sort of group get mixed up in murder cases.

The acting community (stage or screen) has traditionally been thought of in this way. In fact, there was a time when actors were expected to stay to themselves and weren’t welcomed elsewhere.  Even today, the acting community has its own culture.

Agatha Christie explored that culture in several of her stories. For instance, we get a peek at it in After the Funeral. In that novel, wealthy patriarch Richard Abernethie dies, and his family gathers for the funeral. Afterwards, Abernethie’s sister, Cora Lansquenet, says that he was murdered. At first, everyone hushes her up. But, when she herself is murdered the next day, it seems that she was right. The family attorney, Mr. Entwhistle, asks Hercule Poirot to investigate, and he agrees. Two of the ‘people of interest’ in the case are Abernethie’s niece, Rosamund Shane, and her husband, Michael ‘Mick.’ They are actors, and, as Mick says, they’ll be able to produce their own play with their share of their uncle’s inheritance. As Entwhistle and Poirot spend time with them, we get a look at the acting world, the way it works, and some of its priorities.

We get an even closer look at the sometimes very unconventional world of film acting in Stuart Kaminsky’s Toby Peters novels. Peters is a Los Angeles- based PI who once worked on the security staff of Warner Brothers’ Hollywood film lot. So, he’s very familiar with the acting and film cultures. And his knowledge gives him insight into the cases he investigates. The series takes place in the 1940’s, during the ‘Golden Age’ of the Hollywood mega-studios like Warner Brother and MGM. And several of the characters with whom he interacts are actual historical figures, such as Errol Flynn and Judy Garland. B.C. Stone’s novels featuring real-life star Kay Francis as the sleuth also shed light on this era.

The culture of other entertainers, such as magicians and carnival artists, is also often non-conformist and quite different to what most of us are accustomed to in our own lives. Elly Griffiths shows us that culture in her Max Mephisto/Edgar Stephens series. This series takes place in the 1950s, and features Stephens, who is a Detective Inspector (DI). His old friend, and wartime (WWII) fellow soldier is a magician named Max Mephisto. Mephisto is a member of the ‘carnival culture,’ and he travels and performs on the seaside resort circuit. As such, he’s a very helpful resource for Stephens, whose lifestyle is a little more conventional. And in the novels, readers get the chance to see what life is like for ‘carneys’ who don’t stay in one place long, and whose friends are mostly others who are in the same life.

In one plot thread of Kate Ellis’ The Merchant House, we get the chance to know a little more about another unique culture: the travellers’ culture. Travellers don’t always conform to the rest of society. Instead, they have their own ways of doing things, and their own expectations. We learn a little about this life when the body of a young woman is discovered at Little Tradmouth Head, Tradmouth. Detective Sergeant (DS) (later Detective Inspector (DI)) Wesley Peterson and the Tradmouth CID team begin to investigate. After a time, the trail leads to a group of travellers that has set up camp in the area. One of these people is Chris Manners, who may have some information on the victim. With him lives a little boy named Daniel. And that means that Social Services takes an interest. When the Social Services representative, Lynne Wychwood, visits, she has to handle the matter carefully. This is a different community, with its own ways of living, that don’t always conform to what others think ‘should’ happen. Her visit to the travellers doesn’t solve the murder. But it does give some insight into the travellers’ lives. You’re absolutely right, fans of Claire McGowan’s The Lost.

And then there’s the surfer community that we meet in Don Winslow’s novels about Boone Daniels, The Dawn Patrol and The Gentleman’s Hour (there’s also Rogue Ride, a short story featuring Daniels). Boone Daniels is a former San Diego police detective who’s become a PI. In reality, though, he’s a dedicated surfer who’d much rather be on his surfboard than on a case. He and his friends, whom he nicknames the Dawn Patrol, spend as much time surfing as they can, and, as we get to know them (and Daniels), we learn about the surfing community. It’s a unique group of people who, quite deliberately, don’t conform to the larger society. And they like it that way. In fact, in The Dawn Patrol, Daniels comments on how much he resents the Beach Boys for calling a lot of attention to surfers and the surfing community:

‘So many people moved to the SoCal coast, it’s surprising it didn’t just tilt into the ocean. Well, it sort of did; the developers threw up quick-and-dirty condo complexes on the bluffs above the ocean, and now they’re sliding into the sea like toboggans.

In a lot of ways, Daniels and his friends would far rather have been left outside of ‘regular’ society.

Not every community conforms to what ‘the rest of us’ might expect. On the one hand, that can make such groups seem unusual at best. On the other, it adds to their distinctiveness, and can make this sort of group an interesting context for a novel.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Waffle Stompers’ Garage Ska.


Filed under Agatha Christie, B.C. Stone, Claire McGowan, Don Winslow, Elly Griffiths, Kate Ellis, Stuart Kaminsky

Show a Little Faith, There’s Magic in the Night*

Most of us like to have some sense of security. And that means, perhaps, a certain amount of predictability. That makes sense, too, since humans like to impose some sort of order on our worlds. But sometimes, there are decisions we take, or new ventures we start, that require having some faith.

In those situations, we give up at least a little of our sense of security in exchange for what we hope will be a better situation. If you’ve ever moved house, started a new job, gotten married or opened your own business, you know the feeling. On the one hand, there’s the anxiety that comes with the unknown. On the other, there’s the faith that things will work out.

That mix can add some interest and tension to a story. And as we see characters dealing with the unknown, and relying on their faith that things will be all right, we can identify with the mixed feelings that come with change. So, it’s no surprise that we see this plot point in crime fiction.

In Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit, Anne Bedingfield has recently lost her father. And, since he wasn’t wealthy, she’s going to have to earn her living. She doesn’t want to become a typist or work in an office. But she knows she’ll have to do something with her life. One day, she happens to witness a terrible accident (or was it an accident?) at an Underground station. A man falls or is pushed under an oncoming train. Anne doesn’t know the victim, but she ends up with a piece of paper that the man had in his pocket. After a short time, she learns that the note on the paper refers to the upcoming sailing of the HMS Kilmorden Castle for Cape Town. On impulse, she books passage on the ship, and finds herself drawn into a web of international intrigue, jewel theft, and murder. It requires some faith to book that passage (which isn’t cheap), but Anne gets past her anxiety, and certainly does have adventure to show for her decision.

Claire McGowan’s The Lost introduces forensic psychologist Claire Maguire. As the novel begins, she’s living and working in London, mostly with missing person cases. She’s good at her job, and her work gets noticed. In fact, she gets an invitation to return to her home town of Ballyterrin, in Northern Ireland, to help set up a cold case review team. Two girls have recently gone missing, so there’s finally enough interest to fund a team. Maguire had her own reasons for leaving Ballyterrin in the first place, so she’s in no great hurry to go back. But, her father, who still lives in the area, has recently broken his leg, and could do with some assistance. Besides, there are the missing girls. So, with a mix of anxiety and faith that things will work out, Maguire goes back to Ballyterrin. And what she finds is a complicated case that turns even more tragic when one of the girls is found dead.

In Belinda Bauer’s Blacklands, we meet twelve-year-old Steven Lamb. He lives with his mother, his grandmother, and his younger brother in the Exmoor town of Shipcott. This isn’t a particularly happy family, though. Nineteen years earlier, Steven’s uncle, Billy Peters, went missing and was never found. Everyone’s always believed that a man named Arnold Avery was responsible, but he was never brought to justice on the matter. He’s in prison, though, on charges relating to other child murders. Steven wants to find a way for his family to heal. So, he decides to look for Uncle Billy’s body. He searches the moor but doesn’t have much success. Then, he has another idea. He’ll write to Avery, and to try to get him to tell where the body is. Steven’s anxious about the whole thing, but he also  has faith that he can find out what he wants to know. So, he and Avery begin a correspondence that turns into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Ian Sansom’s The Case of the Missing Books is the first in his Mobile Library series. Israel Armstrong dreams of being a librarian, maybe even a curator in the British Library someday. But for now, he’s working as a bookseller’s assistant. Then, he gets the opportunity to start his library career. Tumdrum and District Library, in Tumdrum, Ireland, is looking for a librarian, and Armstrong gets the job. He knows that it’s a small place without any real reputation. But, he thinks, it’s a start. So, he pulls up stakes in London, and goes to Ireland. He’s got faith in himself as a librarian, but he’s unprepared for what he finds. When he arrives, he discovers that the library has closed, and that, in fact, he’s been hired to drive a mobile library bus. He refuses the job at first, but then is practically shamed into going through with the contract. That’s when he finds that the bus is broken down and in need of repair, and that the entire collection of books has gone missing. Now he’ll have to find the books and get the library going if he’s to have any success.

And then there’s Mick Herron’s Down Cemetery Road. Sarah Tucker is at a sort of crossroads in her live. She’s not happy in her marriage, but she doesn’t have a real career or direction. Then, one night, an explosion destroys a house not far from where she lives. The home’s owners, Thomas and Maddie Singleton, have died. But there’s no sign of their four-year-old daughter, Dinah. Worried about the child, Sarah starts to ask questions. But she soon finds that no-one wants to answer them. So, she hires a private investigation company, Oxford Investigations, run by Joe Silvermann and Zoë Boehm. It’s not long before Silvermann lets her know that she’s getting into something much more than she thought. But Sarah persists. When Silvermann is murdered, Sarah knows that she’s gotten into something very dangerous. It’s all very new to her, and she has plenty of very well-founded anxiety. But she also has faith that she can do this. In the end, and after several deaths, she finds out the truth about the Singletons. And it all leads to some very dark truths in some very high government places.

Doing something new and different, especially if there’s danger involved, can cause a lot of anxiety. But there’s also often a sense of faith that things will come out all right. And that mix is both very human, and very effective in a story.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Belinda Bauer, Claire McGowan, Ian Sansom, Mick Herron

Give Me One Quick Glance*

Authors build suspense in many different ways, depending on the story, the (sub)genre, and a lot more. One way that some authors do this is by referring to a pivotal incident without actually detailing it, at least at first. When it’s done well, this strategy can invite the reader to engage in the story to find out more about the incident. But it’s not easy to do well. And when it’s done poorly, it simply annoys readers, many of whom don’t want to be strung along like that. That said, though, we do see this strategy in crime fiction.

For instance, in Claire McGowan’s The Lost, forensic psychologist Dr. Paula Maguire returns from London to her native Northern Ireland. She’s been persuaded to help set up a cold case review team in her home town of Ballyterrin. She’s reluctant to return, but her father has recently broken a leg, and this will give her the opportunity to help take care of him. Professionally, she gets involved in the search for several young girls who’ve gone missing. But at first, we’re not told why she left Ballyterrin in the first place. It was a pivotal incident, and it’s referred to here and there, but it’s not detailed until later in the novel. We get hints of it as the story goes on, but we’re not told everything right away.

Joseph Wambaugh’s The Choirboys begins with references to a shooting that takes place in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park. We are not told who’s been shot, nor what led to the shooting. What we do learn is that several police officers were involved, and there’s going to be an internal investigation into what happened. The novel then goes on to tell the stories of those officers. It seems that they regularly gather in the park for what they call ‘choir practice’ – drinking, venting, commiserating, and occasional sex with a couple of cocktail waitresses who stop by from time to time. The group has gotten the name ‘the choirboys,’ and they’re the main focus of the investigation. The novel follows these officers in the days and weeks and months before the shooting as they make arrests, work together, and so on. The, we learn of some key events that take place just before the shooting. The story of what actually happened in the shooting isn’t laid out until close to the end of the book, and then the story moves to the impact it all has on those involved.

In a slightly similar way, Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Mercy mentions a line-of-duty shooting incident from very early in the novel. Copenhagen homicide detective Carl Mørck has just returned to work after being badly wounded in this incident, and it’s still impacting his mental as well as his physical health. In fact, he’s become so difficult to work with that he’s ‘volunteered’ to head up a new department – ‘Department Q’ – mostly to get him out of others’ way. This department is charged with looking into cases ‘of special interest,’ which are unsolved cases that need attention. The idea is to show that the police are not ignoring them. The first case that Mørck and his new assistant, Hafez al-Assad investigate is the five-year-old disappearance of up-and-coming politician Merete Lynnggard. It was always believed that she went overboard in a terrible ferry accident, but now, new evidence hints that she is still alive. If she is, the team may not have much time left to find her. The shooting incident that left Mørck injured, one colleague dead, and another with paralysis is not detailed until later in the novel. Then, we learn what led up to it and why Mørck feels as he does about it.

Spencer Quinn’s The Right Side is the story of U.S. Army Sergeant LeAnn Hogan. She’s been very badly wounded in a bombing in Afghanistan and has been in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland. While she’s at Walter Reed, LeAnn befriends her roommate, Marci Cumming, who’s dealing with her own injuries. Then, Marci unexpectedly dies. With that important support system gone, LeAnn decides to leave Walter Reed. She takes a road trip across the US to Bellville, Washington, Marci’s home town. She arrives too late to attend Marci’s funeral, but she does at least want to pay her respects to the family. That’s when she learns that Marci’s eight-year-old daughter, Mia, has gone missing. LeAnn wants to help find the child if she’s still alive, but she soon learns that not everyone is enthused about that. In fact, she encounters some hostile reactions. That doesn’t really deter her, though. In the meantime, LeAnn hears from Captain Gerald Stallings, who’s investigating the bombing that wounded her. There are several things about the incident that aren’t what they seem, and Stallings wants her help, since she was there. LeAnn doesn’t want to get involved for a number of reasons, but she’s not given any other option. So, very reluctantly, and in exchange for Stalling’s help finding Mia, she agrees. It’s not until later in the story, as Stalling’s investigation continues, that we learn the details of what happened in that bombing.

And then there’s Jane Woodham’s Twister, which takes place mostly in Dunedin. A nasty ‘flu virus has decimated the ranks of the police, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Five days of rain soak the city, and then a twister comes through. In the aftermath of the storm, the body of Tacey Wenlock, who’s been missing for two weeks, is discovered in Ross Creek. Detective Senior Sergeant Leo Judd is tapped to head the investigation into her death, and he wouldn’t have been the first choice. He’s a skilled detective, but his own daughter, Beth, went missing nine years earlier, and has never been found. He and his wife are still devastated, and no-one would have asked him to handle a case so ‘close to home’ as the Wenlock case if there were any other option. Judd and his team dig in and start looking for the truth. Beth’s disappearance is mentioned early in the book, but not detailed. It’s only as the story goes on that we learn what led to it, how that day played out, and what really happened to her.

And there are times when referring to a pivotal incident like that without detailing it can work quite well. If the author gives enough information so that the reader doesn’t feel cheated (but not so much that the reader isn’t curious), the strategy can work. But it’s tricky and can easily fall flat if it’s not done well.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from The Cramps’ What’s Behind The Mask.


Filed under Claire McGowan, Jane Woodham, Joseph Wambaugh, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Spencer Quinn

Big News!*

As this is posted, it’s 44 years since the publication of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s All the President’s Men. As you’ll know, these journalists were instrumental in uncovering the Watergate scandal that ended up bringing down Richard Nixon’s presidency.

Woodward and Bernstein’s exposé was one of the more famous in journalism, but it’s hardly been the only one. Journalists and other writers have been doing exposés for a long time, both before and since All the President’s Men was published. Fictional characters have done that sort of writing, too. Whether such characters are sleuths, victims, or play another role, they’re woven into the crime fiction. And it’s interesting to see how those exposés and the people who work on them are depicted in the genre.

In Gail Bowen’s The Endless Knot, we are introduced to Canadian journalist Kathryn Morrissey. She has written a controversial exposé on the way that several wealthy and celebrated Canadians treat their children. In doing so, she strips away the ‘nice, perfect’ lives these people seem to have. And, she upsets a lot of people. In fact, one of them, Sam Parker, is so incensed by the book that he shoots at, and wounds, Morrissey. He’s arrested, and hires prominent attorney Zack Shreve to defend him. It’s not going to be an easy case; after all, there’s no question that Parker shot Morrissey. But Shreve is a gifted lawyer. Among other things, the novel raises interesting questions about journalism, exposés, and the limits of what’s published.

Kel Robertson’s Smoke and Mirrors begins as Australian Federal Police (AFP) detective Bradman ‘Brad’ Chen is lured back to police work after some time away. Alec Dennet, a member of Gough Whitlam’s 1972-1975 government, has been found murdered. He was visiting a writer’s retreat, Uriarra, located near Canberra, to work on his memoirs. Also there was his editor, Lorraine Starke, who’s also been killed. The police soon discover that Dennet’s manuscript is missing. This leads Chen and his team to suspect that something in the manuscript triggered the murders, and that’s not out of the question. It was said that Dennet’s book was to be, among other things, an exposé that might very well embarrass some highly-placed people. It was also said that the manuscript was going to reveal the truth about the alleged conspiracy that brought down the Whitlam government. Chen and his team reason that, if they can find out who took the manuscript, they might find out who the killer is. As it turns out, the case is more complicated than that. As the AFP team look into the matter, we get an interesting look at the impact that exposés can have.

Paddy Richardson’s Cross Fingers features Wellington journalist Rebecca Thorne. She’s been working very hard on an exposé of dubious land developer Denny Graham. He’s got both money and influence, so it’s not easy to find people who are willing to talk to her about him. Even people who aren’t intimidated by Graham’s status don’t exactly want it to be public knowledge that they’ve been swindled. Thorne has finally gotten a few people who are willing to be interviewed when her boss sends her on a different course. It’s soon to be the 30th anniversary of the 1981 Springboks (South Africa’s rugby team) tour of New Zealand. Often simply called ‘The Tour,’ this event was controversial. At the time, South Africa still had a strict policy of apartheid, and plenty of New Zealanders didn’t want the team to visit for that reason. Others wanted to watch the rugby. And the police simply wanted to keep order. There were clashes and confrontations, and Thorne’s boss wants her to do a piece on the tour. Thorne isn’t interested, mostly because she doesn’t see any new angle on the story. She also doesn’t want to lose her tenuous hold on the people willing to talk about Denny Graham. Then, she finds a unique angle on the tour story, and ends up looking into a 30-year-old murder.

Christopher Brookmyre’s Quite Ugly One Morning introduces his protagonist, Jack Parlabane. As the novel begins, Parlabane’s just returned to his native Edinburgh from Los Angeles. He wakes up one morning to the sound of a loud commotion. Wondering what’s going on, he leaves his flat and goes down the stairs to the one below. Then, he remembers that he’s closed his door, locking himself out of his home. His plan is to go into the downstairs flat, go through a window there, and re-enter his own flat through the corresponding window in it. When he goes into the downstairs flat, though, he finds the body of a man who’s obviously been murdered. Parlabane’s an investigative journalist, so he is curious. But he’s also smart enough to know that he doesn’t want to be caught at the scene of a crime. He’s making his way towards the window when the police, in the form of Detective Constable (DC) Jenny Dalziel find him. Partly to clear himself, and partly because of his curiosity, Parlabane gets involved in the investigation – and ends up doing an exposé that involves health care, politics, and government.

And then there’s Claire McGowan’s The Lost, which introduces her protagonist, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire. In the novel, Maguire travels from London back to her hometown of Ballyterrin, Northern Ireland. She’s to be part of a new Cold Case team that’s finally been funded. Their first case involves some girls who have gone missing, and the team gets right to work. The trail leads to some secrets that some well-respected people would much rather keep quiet. Along the way, Maguire meets up again with her old flame, Aidan O’Hara, who edits the local paper. He’s used to doing very safe ‘fluff’ stories, but he gets his chance at an exposé with this case.

Exposés can be interesting. When they’re accurately done, they can shed important light on things that are happening, too – things people should know. And writers who do exposés can make for interesting fictional characters.


*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Jason Robert Brown.


Filed under Christopher Brookmyre, Claire McGowan, Gail Bowen, Kel Robertson, Paddy Richardson