She confessed. She’s lying.
‘They’re dead. They’re all dead. It’s my fault. I killed them.’
Those are the words of Iona Gardener, who stands bloodied and staring as she confesses to the murder of four people in a run-down cottage outside of Belfast.
Outside the cottage, five old dolls are hanging from a tree. Inside the cottage, the words “WHO TOOK EDEN MULLIGAN?” are graffitied on the wall, connecting the murder scene with the famous cold case of Eden Mulligan, a mother-of-five who went missing during The Troubles.
But this case is different. Right from the start.
Because no one in the community is willing to tell the truth, and the only thing DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey can be certain of is that Iona Gardener’s confession is false….
Rose Lainey, forensic psychologist, has returned to Belfast, her home town, for her estranged mother’s funeral. She had left Belfast many years ago to get away from any association with her family name. Her mother, she believes, had a dark past connected to the IRA.
D I Danny Stowe has been pushed aside after messing up his last big case. His marriage is on the rocks which isn’t helping him stay focused.
A young woman, Iona Gardener, walks into a police station covered in blood declaring that she has ‘killed them’ before collapsing.
Danny is given a break since at the scene is a message “Who took Eden Mulligan?” and is put in charge of the investigation.
Rose looks in on Danny, friends since being at university together, who asks her to help with the case. She agrees. He wants her help interviewing Iona, who is believes didn’t kill anyone, but she is not yet fit. So, in the meantime, Rose will look into the Eden Mulligan case. Is it really connected to the present murders? If so, how? And if Iona didn’t kill them who did?
Set in Belfast of the present day and looking back to the 1980s this book gives a fascinating insight into what it was like for those living through ‘The Troubles’ particularly for those living in the Catholic areas of Belfast. Eden Mulligan was a Protestant married to a Catholic man who was often absent working in England. When he was home he drank a lot. They had five children whose lives were irrevocably altered when their mother disappeared one night and their father never came back to care for them.
This is a tremendous story of murder, abduction and loss. It goes beyond the normal police procedural investigation into the murky world of the IRA, how it impacted on people’s lives. Also, at the involvement of priests and how being ‘a man of the cloth’ might bring influence and power in and over a community but even that cannot always save him if his personal life choices change.
These various threads are well handled and written by the author who writes with authority and the voice of experience. The two main characters are well drawn and likeable. This is certainly a duo who have the ability to become favourites for many readers of any future books. There is also scope to develop D I Stowe and his squad into terrific characters and, along with Rose, a great team.
I liked the setting, the various storylines including Rose and Danny’s backstories which were neatly woven into the book. It is well paced, an engrossing story and a wonderful read that I would not hesitate to recommend.
Thanks: Many thanks to Ellie Pilcher for the invite to read Who Took Eden Mulligan? and to Avon Books for the eBook via NetGalley.
Publisher: Avon Books (HarperCollins) – 18 February 2021| ISBN: 978-0-00-842446-6
Author: Sharon Dempsey is a crime writer and a PhD candidate at Queen’s University. She was a journalist and health writer, working for a variety of publications including the Irish Times, before turning to crime fiction.
Her crime debut, Little Bird, was released July 2017.
She facilitates creative writing classes for people affected by cancer and other health challenges and tutors at Queen’s University and Stranmillis College.
‘Who Took Eden Mulligan?’ is the first in a new crime series set in Belfast.
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