RATING: VERY GOOD
The second part of the book starts four months later, and the police have closed the case since there is no way they can find the identity of the buried body. So life returns to normal for Sergeant JP Collins. Things change when another body is found on the Burkes’ property. The bones belong to a baby, and when the tests come back, genetics show that the bones were related to Tommy.
JP and detective Linus Dunne continue their investigation. Despite how different both men are, they have developed a good rapport. Linus is quite a hard, cold man, and he tells JP that his wife has left him, and he doesn’t seem to care too much. The baby was a bad idea in his opinion, and he values his privacy and solitude.
The two men ask Brid and Evelyn if there is a way the baby could be theirs, but neither of the women ever engaged into a sexual relationship with Tommy. Then JP hears from the pub’s owner that her mother, who is in a nursing centre, suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, claimed that the person who saw Tommy leave was Abigail Ross. When he questions her about it at some picnic function organised by the church, the woman denies it. Then she gets sick, and when PJ takes her to the hospital with her sisters, they are told that Abigail probably has kidney stones and will have to return for treatment or surgery. It is when PJ leaves the hospital that he sees a man and a nurse kissing, and he recognises the man as Anthony Riordan, Brid’s husband.
The revelation comes when PJ goes home and his housekeeper, Mrs Meany, is waiting for him. The woman has been acting strange, and by then we already know that she knows something. So she tells PJ about the moment when things started, which is when she was a teenager. She had two friends, who were very close. Then one of them got a boyfriend, and it was her, Lizzie Meanie, and Angela. The two girls liked music, especially a band whose lead singer was someone called Sebastian Bello, or something like that. Angela and Lizzie heard that the band was playing in town, so they managed to get tickets and persuade their parents to let them go. Angela’s father would drive them there and pick them up later. When they were in the pub, listening to the group, somehow Lizzie was pushed forward and found herself among a group of other girls, and as it was very hot, she fainted. When she came to, there was a woman with her, but there was no Angela, and when the woman told her that it was eleven o’clock. Lizzie ran outside, but there was no sign of Angela or her father’s car, and soon the place was empty. Lizzie was desperate, and then a man came out of the pub. His name was Barry, and he claimed to be the one who saw to the band’s instruments. He offered to take her to Angela’s place; Barry was quite a cocky, rude man, and when he left Lizzie near Angela’s place, the man demanded a kiss, but he didn’t stop there, and he raped her.
Lizzie didn’t tell anybody, but then she missed a period and she knew that she was pregnant. There was nobody she could talk to: neither her parents nor Angela. Then she went to confession and told the priest. The man arranged for her to go with the Burkes while he found a family for her baby to go to. Yet, the baby Mrs Burke was expecting died, so they decided to bury the baby on the property without anybody being any the wiser, and Lizzie’s baby would be taken by the Burkes. So that is why the body first found didn’t match the genetic samples taken from the Burkes when they were exhumed, because Tommy was not their son. So now that Mrs Meanie comes with this confession, they take a sample from the woman, and right as we suspect, the body and Mrs Meanie match genetically, so it means that Tommy is the one who these bones belong to.
By this time it is clear that all the clues point at Abigail Ross. Another local woman tells JP that Abigail told her he had seen Tommy take the bus to Cork, and then when Abigail goes to hospital, Evelyn packs a bag for her, and she finds part of the scarf that Tommy gave her. When Evelyn asks her sister, she tells her that she went to see Tommy that day and handed back the scarf but she didn’t tell Evelyn because she didn’t want her to suffer more.
Evelyn tells JP when he comes questioning her. Abigail is in hospital, and JP goes to find her. The woman is on her way out of the hospital, and JP tells him that he will drive her back to the village, and she can leave the keys for her car with some of the gardai. JP is quite naive when the woman pretends she can’t find her keys and sends him to enquire to the hospital, but nobody has seen Abigail’s keys. When he returns, Abigail says she has found her keys, and when they get into JP’s car, it won’t start. Abigail suggests they take hers, and JP agrees. The woman drives, and it is then that she reveals the truth. It is true that she went to see Tommy to confront him after the newspaper announced the engagement with Brid. Tommy was out in the field in his tractor, and when Abigail saw the scarf that her sister had left on the kitchen table, she took it. The man claimed he had never encouraged Evelyn any way, but Abigail was too furious. And then the wind caught the scarf, which flew and got trapped into the tractor engine, so the tractor jerked to a stop, throwing Tommy out of the vehicle, and the man hit his head. Abigail knew he was dead, but she couldn’t imagine her sister, who had found her father hanging dead, going through the same misery, so she decided to bury the body, clean the evidence, and invent that story about Tommy going away.
As Abigail tells her story, she slams on the accelerator and JP realises she is really over the edge. The woman says that this was the time to tell the truth since it is the end for her. It is not kidney stones she has, but tumours. So she is suicidal, and to his horror JP sees how the woman directs the car to the cliff and the car plunges into the sea.
The following chapter shows two funerals. The first one is Abigail’s, who didn’t survive the impact into the sea, and the second one is Tommy’s, finally being buried properly. In the last funeral only three people attend: Mrs Meanie, Brid, and Evelyn. We know that Evelyn took the two deaths terribly, and she has become morose, and it is her sister who has to look after her.
JP survived the ‘accident’ as he manages to throw himself out of the car before it crashed into the sea. He had to spend a few days in the hospital, and when Detective Linus Dunne comes to visit him, he tells him that he is going to leave the gardai as he has realised that he doesn’t want to keep doing menial work in a village where nothing every happens. Dunne suggests he can put a word in for him if there is a post in Cork, and JP gets cheered by the prospect. In the epilogue we see that JP finally gets a post in Cork and is moving there.
As for Brid, she finds out about her husband’s unfaithfulness. She finds some tickets for the hospital car park, and at first she thinks that he is hiding some kind of condition, but when she sees that her husband looks anything but sick, she decides to follow him and discovers his tryst with the nurse. When she confronts him, she has been drinking, which is something that I think she shouldn’t have done. Anthony has to admit the truth, but refuses to leave the house. So Brid storms out and drives to see PJ, who comforts her all night, but there is nothing sexual then, but tenderness.
When Brid talks to Anthony then, she has thought things through. She won’t try to sort things out because it is clear that their marriage is over. She is not happy, and she suspects that Anthony is not happy. A divorce will mean selling her father’s farm, which is the inheritance of their children. So her idea is to sell part of the field so that they can have money to build Anthony a cottage of his own. They will be separated, but the children will have their parents close by, and they will be spared the mess of a divorce. So they do that, but their daughter doesn’t take the separation well and blames her mother and drinking problems for the problems with her husband.
The epilogue is quite nice. JP is in a restaurant waiting for someone, and the last image is Brid walking towards him and waving, so it means that there is a future for them. I have to say that I liked Brid much better than Evelyn, who was kind of flaky.
I loved the book. The characters are very real. The only thing is that the way people behaved and the descriptions made me think of a different period of time and not the present time.