Parry Sound Books

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Good Literature for Children & Adults

Claire McGowan – The Lost and The Dead Ground

If you read mysteries you know you’re always waiting for the next book by favourite authors – and they just don’t write them quickly enough! This past summer I read a number of mystery novels by authors I was not already familiar with and found a couple of authors I will now follow as they write new books.


Clair McGowan is a British writer with a couple of books under her belt and another coming out this month. The series begins with The Lost and feature Paula Maguire, a forensic psychologist working in Belfast, Ireland. Not that she wants to be in Belfast, really. Paula returns home, after years spent establishing her career in England, to care for her father. Dad is a former policeman, now incapacitated at home alone with a broken leg. Paula’s mother disappeared many years earlier – a case that was never solved, leaving her husband and her daughter always wondering if she was “taken” or left for her own reasons.

Paula still struggles with the loss of her mother. Returning home she finds herself drawn into an investigation – and into the past. During the years that Paula was growing up there Belfast and Northern Ireland was a place of strife and danger. People did disappear – killed by one side or the other in a war that was never won but affected everyone who lived there, and still does today.

But, there has been a sort of peace, and those who were once bitter enemies must at least attempt to put the past behind them if their differences are not to be carried into another generation. How does one work with those who may have been responsible for the death of those you love? 

By the end of The Lost Paula Maguire is well and truly tied to Belfast once again, and finds herself struggling with two relationships – one from the past, and one very present.


The Dead Ground continues the series, and we find Paula still attempting to come to terms with events from the past along with the challenges she faces in the present time. Paula is again called to take part in a police investigation – this time the abduction of an infant from the local hospital. Then another child disappears – and another. No one knows if the babies are alive or dead – or why they have been abducted, or if there is more than one person responsible.

Paula does not get far in solving her own problems, but the criminal case of course comes to a conclusion – leaving us all to wait for the next in the series, The Silent Dead, due to be published in just a few weeks.

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