Monday 27 March 2017

Book Review: THE MISSING ONES by Patricia Gibney

The Missing Ones (Detective Lottie Parker, #1)

Author: Patricia Gibney
March 2017

Synopsis (Goodreads):

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice. 

My thoughts:

Three years after losing her husband Adam to cancer, Detective Lottie Parker is still trying to come to terms with her grief and juggle her all-consuming job in the police force with the demands of bringing up three teenagers singlehandedly. Murders are not a common occurrence in the small Irish town of Ragmullin, so when two people are killed in short succession it rocks the community to the core. With her team of detectives, Lottie is at a loss to connect the two deaths, until her enquiries lead her to the gates of St Angela’s, a deserted old mansion that used to serve as a home for wayward teenagers and the unwanted children of unmarried mothers until the 1970’s. The mere look at the old building sends shivers through Lottie, as she is reminded of her own personal connection to the place. As her enquiries lead her further and further into the dark history of the home and the secrets buried deep in Ragmullin’s past, she realises that she is dealing with some powerful people who will not stop at murder to keep the truth hidden. And soon the body count mounts ...

Giving Lottie Parker’s richly drawn history, I was surprised to read that The Missing Ones was Patricia Gibney’s debut novel! With her opening sentences, she instantly mastered that most difficult of all arts – to draw me into the story immediately, and keep me deeply rooted there. The Missing Ones is a very dark book, with sinister themes that haunted me in my sleep, even more so since we know that the abuse described has its origins in true historical facts. I was somewhat shocked and surprised at the timeline of the story, which had its origins in the 1970’s, a time when I had assumed that there would have been more awareness and compassion preventing the hideous acts depicted. Terrifying! Linking the past with greed, corruption and depravity in the present time, the novel skips back and forth through history, exposing the true – and horrific – extent of the crimes Lottie is investigating.

Whilst I haven’t quite yet welcomed Lottie into the fold of my personal favourite fictional female detectives, such as Maeve Kerrigan (Jane Casey), Lacey Flint (Sharon Bolton), Fiona Griffiths (Harry Bingham) and ErikaFoster (Robert Bryndza), she certainly has the potential to be included on that list. Most women trying to juggle a demanding career with family will be able to relate to her struggles, and the guilt she feels on a daily basis as she is constantly torn between the two areas of her life. And as much as she is trying to keep work separate from family, the more impossible it becomes, until she finds that the nature of her work has put one of her own in danger. There are also the tentative hints at office politics involving Lottie and her colleagues, which I am hoping will further play out in future books and make this a very addictive series with many characters we will want to revisit.

Although this was a dark and disturbing read, I enjoyed the slow methodical unravelling of the clues leading to the story’s chilling finale. At times, the sheer amount of different characters was a bit overwhelming, and the book was perhaps just a tad too long, but these are minor quibbles. I loved the cold, damp and grey Irish winter setting, which was beautifully evoked on every page, and added its own chilling atmosphere to the story.

Gibney definitely is a writer to watch and an exciting new voice in crime fiction. I look forward to seeing Lottie Parker featuring in many more novels to come.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 


The life in Ragmullin appeared to have died with the economy.

To get to high places, some people have to bark their way through a dog eat dog world. It erodes their humanity.

How did everyone else get the conscientious brainy children while hers lounged around listening to music or twiddling their thumbs on a PlayStation?


  1. Just finished this fabulous book. can't wait to start the next one

    1. Her latest one, the Stolen Girls, is on my TBR pile - I am hoping to get to it soon!