The Dead Ground takes up the story from where The Lost, which was the first in the Paula McGuire series, ended. Paula McGuire, forensic psychologist is still in Ballyterrin, Northern Ireland with her father an ex-policeman and the ghost of her missing mother haunting her.
Paula is a likable character, she has made mistakes, not least with her boss DI Guy Brooking at the MPRU and newspaper owner Aiden O’Hara, but for now she has work to do, someone has snatched a baby from the hospital and there is a race against time to find him. This book has the constant theme of pregnancy and babies running all the way through it which although compelling, can be more than a little disturbing at times. It is impossible not to imagine the televised appeal for the return of a new-born baby or to wonder at the local hatred from both Catholics and Protestants, for the English doctor who helps pregnant women to arrange abortions. This is very much a modern novel which includes postings on social media site as well as placards to cajole Dr Alison Bates and anyone who wants to use her services into stopping. Alongside this is the insistence of the head of Serious Crime, DCI Helen Corry for the area on consulting the local psychic to find the new-born.
There was plenty to keep me turning the pages throughout this book, not least the on-going mystery of Paula’s missing mother as she searches in vain for clues to her disappearance seventeen years previously. I like that Paula makes mistakes, she doesn’t have the answers and she appears to have curbed the more maverick tendencies which featured in the last investigation. The plot moves at a pace with plenty of twists and turns although I had figured most of the whodunit by the time of the reveal.
An excellent read and one that has confirmed that I will be looking out for the third in the Paula McGuire, but one that does come with a warning that the subject matter is extremely sensitive and I for one would not recommend that you read this book if you are pregnant or have recently had a baby!
Although I’m sure this could be read as a stand-alone read I do think you’ll get more from this book if you read The Lost before picking this one up.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers Headline in return for this honest opinion ahead of the publication date of today, 10 April 2014!
Previous books by Claire McGowan
Paula McGuire Series