Little Girl Lost – Brian McGilloway
This book grabbed my attention from the high praise it had received and the fact that it topped most charts on the Kindle. It always amazes me that despite having over 100 books on my shelf and virtual shelf to read, I still buy new books by authors I have never experienced.
Midwinter. A child is found wandering in an ancient woodland, her hands covered in blood. But it is not her own. Unwilling - or unable - to speak, the only person she seems to trust is the young officer who rescued her, Detective Sergeant Lucy Black. Soon afterwards, DS Black is baffled to find herself suddenly moved from a high-profile case involving a kidnapping of another girl, a prominent businessman's teenage daughter. At home, Black is struggling with caring for her increasingly unstable father, and trying to avoid conflict with her frosty mother - who also happens to be the Assistant Chief Constable. As she tries to identify the unclaimed child, Black begins to realize that her case and the kidnapping may be linked by events from the grimmest days of the country's recent history, events that also defined her own trouble childhood. Little Girl Lost is a devastating crime thriller about corruption, greed, and vengeance, and a father's love for his daughter.
“Little Girl Lost” follows Lucy Black a Detective Sergeant who struggles to prove herself at work and endures her personal life at home. At work, she has moved to a new department where she is unknown and eager to make an impression. She is stoic about her connection to her mother the Assistant Chief Constable, choosing to be accepted on her own merits rather than be perceived as getting special favours.
The fact of the matter is, Lucy’s relationship with her mother is far from idyllic. It can be described as “terse” at best with Lucy blaming her mother for walking out of their family home when Lucy was younger. This adds another layer to the uphill battle she endures. None of her co-workers are particularly nice, either being ambitious themselves or simply too laid back.
At home, she struggles to look after the increasingly alarming mental state of her father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. McGilloway portrays the fragile health of Lucy’s father well. He is fine one minute and the next is confused and sometimes violent. It is sad to read but incredibly realistic. The only downside is that, in his confusion, Lucy’s father’s ramblings, sometime reveal convenient snippets of information that advance the plot nicely.
Lucy herself, is a sympathetic character. The empathy she shows the little girl she finds is nice and brings out her character nicely as she constantly visits the girl to follow through on the case.
When she is suddenly moved off the main investigation (the hunt for another girl) her frustration is evident. She fights against the authority but does not moan and wallow in self-pity. It helps endear the reader to her character which is good as none of the other characters are particularly memorable.
The plot is good, containing some nice twists and turns, but there is an element of having seen this kind of story before. The main revelation will not surprise anyone familiar with this genre and was telegraphed from early on in the story.
McGilloway’s main triumph is the setting. The book recalls some of the horrors that occurred in Northern Island in the 70s and it was interesting to see it through a unique perspective. Mcgilloway’s description of Derry and the surrounding areas is tight but vivid. At the end of the book McGilloway provides photos of some of the settings he based the parts of the book on and it was surprising to see how much they looked like what I had imagined.
The conclusion wraps things up nicely. As I mentioned, the main twist is a little choreographed but it does not spoil the enjoyment of the novel. I raced through this book in two days and would certainly recommend it.
My rating: 8.6