Reading Irish fiction is always a pleasure, but finding a new voice, and loving what it has to say, is even better. This definitely applies to Sheila Bugler. If you have yet to buy a book for #IrishFictionFortnight, you could do a lot worse than this...
I received a copy of this title, from the publishers, in return for an honest review...
On her way to school, Jodie disappeared. One minute she was there, fighting with her dad, the next she was gone. The father quickly becomes the main suspect and his previous spell in prison is not helping. DI Ellen Kelly has her doubts though. She sees a similarity to another missing child case. One that had an unhappy ending. Could the same person have snatched Jodie? Fighting her way through office politics and a tragic past, Ellen is determined to get to the bottom of Jodie's disappearance. Even if that means using some unofficial means...
This debut, from Irish writer Sheila Bugler, is the first in her DI Ellen Kelly series. The novel is set in London, where Ellen is struggling to get back to normal after a recent tragedy. A mother of two, she balances home/work like most women these days, but her back story makes for a deeper character than the norm. Placed for adoption, along with her brother, as a very young girl, she re-visits the past in order to regain her momentum in the present. The author makes her a more likable and realistic mother, as well as Detective Inspector, because of this. The reader can see her hard exterior shell, but know that she battles inner demons everyday.
The story of Jodie is told from many different angles; from the child's eye, the snatcher's, the DI's and Jodie's family. This makes the reader have sympathies for a variety of characters and none more so than the father of the previous missing child. A shadow of his former self, he is a man who aches for justice and revenge. The horrors that are described in this novel are not for the faint hearted. Child abduction is always difficult to read about, even in fiction, but the clever writing, and great characters, make those dark moments part if the bigger picture. The only (very slight) issue for me, was the repetition of the abductors voice. But, I can see how this may have been more about emphasising his mental status than anything.
Anyone who loves a good crime thriller will be hooked, from the opening chapter, and will be dying to get their hands on the next installment, 'The Waiting Game' , which is available now.
For fans of Louise Phillips, Tess Gerritson and Sophie Hannah.
Hunting Shadows is published by Brandon/O'Brien Press and is avaialable in paperback and ebook format.