My reading is taking me back to Ireland this week with two thrillers written by women originally from Cork. One has just been published, the other has been around long enough to have become the first book in a five-novel series. Both take place in small coastal towns, one in Country Cork and one in Galway. One, I expect to be a fairly hard-hitting look at human trafficking and the misery that it causes. The other is more of a police procedural wrapped around the backstory of the main policeman.
I’m hoping both of them will introduce me to people I believe in, in places that feel real, and who are facing problems that I’m glad not to have.
‘The Invisible‘ by Michelle Dunne (2022)
I was very impressed with ‘While Nobody Is Watching’, the first book in this series. It was a fundamentally honest book that gave an unflinching account of what PTSD does to Lindsey Ryan, an ex-soldier who now works with troubled kids in Cork. It spoke to the guilt of having survived, the dislocation from no longer being in the Army with people who understand what you’ve been through, the delusions and nightmares that make you fear for your sanity, the depression that makes you want to just make everything stop, the mood swings that drive risk-taking behaviour, and the embarrassment and anxiety that carrying visible physical scars across much of your body cause. All of which was wrapped around a good thriller plot.
By the end of the book, I felt as if I had met Lindsey Ryan. I admired the way she faced up to serious problems and wanted to know what she did next.
I was surprised when I saw the publisher’s summary for ‘The Invisible’ and realised that what she did next was to get involved in helping victims of human trafficking in Ireland. I think this is one of scourges of the modern world. We’ve re-invented and re-packaged slavery. It’s a prosperous business and one which, certainly in England, isn’t being tackled vigorously enough. My government persistently fails the women and men who are the victims of this ‘business model’, sometimes treating them, and not the people who have taken away their freedom, as the criminals.
I’m hoping that this novel will bring human trafficking alive in a way that is personal and uncomfortable and that Lindsey Ryan will do something that makes a difference to herself and the people she’s trying to help in a way that being a UN Peacekeeper did not.
‘The Ruin‘ by Dervla McTiernan (2018)
Lots of things about this book call to me: it’s a mystery with two timelines, it sounds like it has spooky children involved, the detective is older and slowing down – I know how that feels, and the story is set in Galway – a place I have fond memories of from a long time ago – more than a decade before the first timeline in the novel.
I hoping not just for a good police procedural but for one with an engaging main character and a strong sense of place. If I get that, then I’ll have a whole new series to read.