Publishing year: 2013
This is the second instalment in the DS Lucy Black series.
I loved the first book which I read a while ago. The background of Lucy is quite interesting. She returns to Northern Ireland after some time away. Her father has Alzheimer’s disease, and her mother is ACC (Assistant Chief Constable), the highest rank in the police station. Yet, none of her colleagues know the relationship between Lucy and ACC Wilson. Her parents are divorced, and in the last book Lucy’s father was sent to a mental hospital after he admitted to some criminal activity he was involved with, involving a teenager. The relationship Lucy has with her mother is cold and distant. The woman left her when she divorced her father, and this is something that Lucy begrudges her mother.
In this new book the prologue starts on November 9, and a fourteen-year-old girl, Annie Marsden, is getting ready to have her school picture taken. Then Annie isn’t mentioned again, and the book jumps to December 16. A railway worker finds a young girl lying on the tracks with her throat slashed. The police are called. The girl is fifteen-year-old Karen Hughes, who had been missing from the care centre where she lived for several days. Lucy Black knew the girl and was in charge of her disappearance. Karen had had a very problematic childhood and youth. Her mother is an alcoholic, who at present is in a hospital to dry out, and her father is in prison for robbing a bank and killing a man. Karen coped with her problems by cutting herself.
After Karen is found, Lucy and her boss Tom Fleming start investigating. Tom Fleming has his own problems with drinking, and Lucy covers for him with excuses when he fails to be in time at work. Apart from Tom, there are other police officers in the investigation. Mark Burns is the new superintendent, the big boss, and Lucy hears that he has been selected for the post because he and Lucy’s mother are an item. There is also Mike Sinclair and Tara Gallagher, who seems to be friends with Lucy but is a terrible gossip. Lucy fears the day that Tara finds out that ACC Wilson is her mother. Apart from these, Lucy is in contact with David Cooper, who is an expert in technology.
The first thing the pathologist tells them about Karen’s body is that there were some black dog hair found on the body and there were signs of sexual activity. Mark Burns asks Lucy and Fleming if any of the sexual abuse offenders they have been checking has a black dog. There is one: Gene Kay. Lucy and Fleming go to see him, but they can’t find much there.
David Cooper has Karen’s mobile phone, and he discovers that the girl has stopped all activity on her phone for weeks, and there were only three numbers she called, all of them official. On her Facebook account he discovers she had befriended someone called Paul Bradley, and later he realises that this Paul Bradley has a series of bogus accounts that he befriended himself to make it look as if he was a regular guy. David manage to locate the IP address in a restaurant, and the police go there. Then Lucy sees Gene Kay, and they eventually arrest him after a chase all through the shopping centre.
Then another girl is reported missing. Her name is Sarah Finn, and her mother claims she hadn’t seen her since the previous day. Sarah was supposed to go to the youth club, but none of her friends saw her there. Sarah’s mum, Sinead, is quite laid-back and calm about her daughter’s disappearance, and Lucy finds it strange that the woman paints her finger and toenails at this moment of worry. Sinead tells Lucy and Fleming that Sarah’s dad left them and went to Australia some time ago, and now she has a new partner, Seamus Doherty, who is a lorry driver and left this morning to go to Manchester for a week.
Lucy talks to the post office assistant, who tells her that Sarah withdrew £200 from her mother’s account. This was something common as her mother used to send her to the post office to do that. Lucy also discovers that Seamus Doherty is not on his way to Manchester when his boss tells her that they don’t have business there. Then David Cooper locates the girl’s mobile phone, and when the police retrieve it, they find that she had several texts from Simon Harris, remembering that they were to meet that night. Simon Harris is one of the names for the fake accounts that Paul Bradley had on his account. So this ties the two cases together, and Lucy and Fleming think that if Harris doesn’t know about Sarah going missing, they can catch him, making him believe he is about to meet Sarah. What Lucy thinks has happened to Sarah is that she has left with her mother’s partner, whether it was a voluntary flit or not, that is not clear.
Apart from these two cases, Lucy is still obsessed with Mary Quigg, the girl in the previous book, who died alongside her mother when the woman’s partner Alan Cunnigham set fire to the flat with them inside. The man is at large, and Lucy feels she owes herself and Mary to find the man and make him pay. Lucy still feels guilty that when Mary called her, she couldn’t take the call. We know that Lucy visits the girl’s grave, and in her last visit she discovers that some thugs removed some railing around her grave, and the bunch of flowers and teddy bear that she last left had been stamped on. They eventually catch the guys who stole the railings and are the same people who stole cabling of the railway lines where Karen’s body was found. One of the guys try to escape from the junkyard the police surprised them, and Lucy catches him and stumps on his hand. Because of this, Lucy’s mother questions her. The woman is as cold and distant as in the first book. There is no warmth there, and when she asks her about her life, it sounds as if she is giving her daughter the third degree. Lucy is not welcoming either, and that makes the exchange hostile and cold. I really can’t understand how Wilson can be so unconcerned about her daughter and has no relationship with her.
Apart from the cases Lucy is involved with, we also learn that Lucy broke off with her boyfriend, Robbie, when he kissed another woman. And there is also a boy who Lucy also takes an interest in. It is Gavin Duffy, who is also in the same care centre where Karen was. Gavin’s father recently committed suicide after being involved in some criminal activities during the Troubles.
I love Lucy Black, and the novel is getting more and more interesting. I wonder who killed Karen and where Sarah is.