Opening Hook: Church will kill you.
Main Character: Drunky McHypocrite.
Plot Twisty-ness: You never know what Priests are up to.
My endless struggle to catch up on NetGalley arcs continues with this book I received in January of 2017.
Seriously I’m just the fucking worst. Please don’t leave me!
The Missing Ones wasn’t the worst. But it wasn’t great either…
First of all, it’s way too long considering the substance of the story which is pretty typical and occasionally flat, albeit mixed with moments that were kind of disturbing. Consider this your warning for baby murder.
Detective Lottie Parker is heading up a team looking for a murderer who has killed a woman in a church and tried to make another man’s death look like a suicide. The deaths are all connected in some way to a former Catholic children’s home, St. Angela’s, that is disturbing as fuck as one would expect a religious children’s home to be. There’s a land developer involved, some business partners and a few shady priests.
I mean, in a nutshell, you could say the theme of this book is: Catholics really know how to fuck people up.
This should come as a surprise to literally no one who is on the outside looking in. Listen, if you’re here for some eggshell walking around religion, you’ve found the wrong book reviewer.
Gibney capitalizes on the darkness that follows the Catholic church from past to present, using it to weave an interesting crime around the religion’s hidden-but-usual practices and beliefs. But, I could have done without a huge chunk of the middle of the book that was rather slow and plodding, and struggling to make typical familial domestic issues an interesting intermission between the police procedural aspects of the plot.
There was an attempt to flesh out squad members and have them feel like a team with deep connection and personalities, but for the most part I think this book suffered from just too many relationships for Lottie to juggle so none of them ever became emotionally tangible, except for Lottie’s partner, Boyd. Though I still fully reject the trope of partners always falling into bed together. There doesn’t have to be a whiff of romance in every procedural.
Where real connections were not built, you had characters like Lottie’s Captain who was angry and dramatic without a known motivation, making him seem like a stereotype rather than a real character who the author put thought into. And while he acted as a conflict source for Lottie through 50% of the book, eventually he just disappeared from the story. Further, the people on Lottie’s team came across as kind of stupid and bad at their jobs.
Lottie’s character theme was pretty obvious – a single mom and struggling widow who has a conflict with her superiors, including her own mother. She’s emotionally short and holding anger over the death of her husband. She’s frazzled and dropping the ball at home when it comes to her kids. While I can appreciate the reality that is present in that character direction, I had a hard time connecting with Lottie because she lacked any personal introspection. Sure you have a bad relationship with your mother, but your children are literally going hungry?? I don’t understand being on the ball enough to lead a murder investigation, but not having the inclination to take care of your kids even if it hurts your pride.
Second, I thought Lottie was a hypocrite. She’s a borderline drunk who hides alcohol in the shed and has blackout sex with her partner, who she then verbally abuses while sober, and yet, when her 19-year-old daughter is smoking weed she approaches it like it’s the 1930s and Reefer Madness.
There are multiple references to weed being a “gateway” drug and to pot smokers being “junkies,” their lives being derailed by weed. Then there were comments about the effects of weed that were actually the effects of heroin/opioids, followed by a freak out that included something about “injecting” weed in an alley, and the fear of finding her daughter dying with a needle in her arm.
I have to wonder if the author has ever been around weed in her life or if she has access to Google to find out exactly how it is consumed and the effects of it. Or maybe she’s just heavily anti-weed and felt the need to preach that out in her writing using debunked talking points.
Either way, as a pot smoker who knows a lot of pot smokers, this aspect of the book was just straight up stupid.
The real killer in this novel, however, is the pacing. There is no sense of urgency to the investigation. It is muddled by Lottie’s personal demons and weed hysterics. It took me forever to read this book because I found myself getting so bored, so often. By the last 100 pages, things started to pick up, but as the final showdown took place and all the secrets were revealed, it felt lacklustre. A letdown that could have been avoided had more attention been paid to the suspense and pacing, and editing.
If you like UK police procedurals that are high on personal issues and tame in action, but have some dark moments to make you uncomfortable, you might like this.
It’s not a terrible first entry into a series, but it suffers from a few missteps. And I definitely wasn’t into the weed scare tactics.
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.
Book source: The publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a review