Little Girl Lost
“In fine fashion, Brian McGilloway reminders readers that Derry’s troubled past is more likely to be a portent than a panacea.”
Little Girl Lost has a great opening scene. In a blizzard, a milkman spots a barefoot girl dressed only in pajamas coming out of the woods. If a reader doesn’t want to know more, then there is no hope for the human race.
There has been a slew of great modern crime fiction from the UK from Val Mcdermid’s Scottish noir to Tana French’s Dublin murder squad. But Brian McGilloway gives us a compelling look at current day Derry, the second largest city in Northern Ireland. If one thinks all is calm since the peace accords, then think again. History has a way of repeating itself with the violence of what is quaintly known as The Troubles reaching pervasively into the present.
DS Lucy Black, who has moved back to her hometown to deal with her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s, is rousted out of her warm bed to search for this girl. Perhaps it is Kate McLaughlin, the kidnapped daughter of real estate tycoon Michael McLaughlin. When Lucy finds out the girl is not Kate, but Alice, the sense of disappointment from the rest of the search team is palpable. Only Lucy seems to be aware that the rescue of a child in a snowstorm should be celebrated.
It’s a theme that’s repeated in the book: some kids are worth more than other kids.
Alice won’t speak, but she seems to trust Lucy more than anyone else in the procession of social workers and psychiatrists that trek through her hospital room. Lucy often spends the night in Alice’s room, falling asleep after reading her fairy tales.
Lucy deflects advances from her commanding officer and wants to keep quiet the fact she is following in the footsteps of both her parents. Her parents’ divorce has left scars, and the fact her mother let her father bring her up—well what does that say?
Despite the inordinately high number of chase scenes and the fact Lucy continually goes into unsafe places without backup (another reason she’s in the hospital so much) this is not a slam-bang thriller. The deliberate pace and the easily guessable bad guy may frustrate some readers.
As a side investigation, when Lucy finds an old informant of her father’s who now lives on the streets (or “lives rough,” as they say across the pond). Janet looks 50 but actually is not much older than the 27-year-old police officer and she tells Lucy that she has been branded as a traitor. A more frightening tale, told in matter of fact tones makes the storyline all the more chilling.
In fine fashion, Brian McGilloway reminders readers that Derry’s troubled past is more likely to be a portent than a panacea.