Top critical review
Compeling Addition to a Great Series
Reviewed in Australia on 1 November 2019
★★★ 3.5 stars
I'm no stranger to DI Lottie Parker and have been a fan of the Irish crime series since the beginning. So I was excited to see where this one would lead, as I thoroughly enjoyed the last book "Final Betrayal" but for the cliffhanger Ms Gibney left us on. The premise for BROKEN SOULS was intriguing with two women found dead in suspected suicides, both wearing wedding dresses.
Cara Dunne, a schoolteacher, was found hanging in her bathroom, a belt pulled taut around her neck. By all accounts it appeared to be a suicide, particularly as she had recently been jilted by her fiance local pub owner Steve O'Carroll. What little was known about Cara said that she was devastated over her broken engagement. Is that why she chose to end her life wearing her wedding dress? But why was there no note? And wasn't hanging a little dramatic? Women usually opt for an overdose of pills, a clean and painfree end. Something didn't add up for Lottie. Cara had scratches on her neck that weren't easily explained. Added to that, her new found faith would see suicide as a mortal sin. Surely she wouldn't jeopardise her eternal soul for the sake of a broken engagement?
Fiona Heffernan was a nurse at the Ballydoon Abbey nursing home and, having finished her shift the day before she was to married, she is found dead by a colleague, having seemingly thrown herself from the Abbey roof. She, too, was wearing a wedding dress. But not, it seems, her own - unlike Cara who was.
No sooner were investigations into Cara's death underway with her body having hardly reached the mortuary when word reaches the team about Fiona. Two suicides in one day? In Ragmullin? Surely not. Then through the course of their investigations, the team learn that Fiona had an 8 year old daughter that no one had thought to tell them about, until her husband-to- be Ryan did, and the race is on to locate her. Her last known whereabouts was at the theatre where she has dance practice. But upon their arrival, there is no sign of Lily.
With two suspicious deaths and now a missing child to contend with, Lottie needs to make sense of it all, piecing together the puzzle and work out how each case is linked. But most importantly, to find Lily and her back safe and sound.
Then the team find a link to the suicide of a Robert Brady, who was found hanging from a tree two weeks ago. But where he was found was of great interest to Lottie...just a few hundred metres from the residence of their prime suspect, shift solicitor Colin Kavanaugh, Fiona's ex-partner and father to her daughter Lily. It seems wherever she turns, Kavanaugh's name continues to crop up. So what exactly has he got to do with these cases?
Aside from the pressures of her professional life, Lottie's personal one seems to be just as much turmoil. Although one would think that after the abduction of her own daughters in the previous book, it would draw them all closer as a family but it seems to have the opposite affect. Her daughters are now both adults and doing their own thing while her 15 year old son angrily shuts her out. I was very surprised at the dynamics in her family after such a traumatic event.
And then there is Lottie's relationship with her DS, Mark Boyd. His proposal at the end of the last book surprised us, including Lottie, but in this book both are behaving like they are anything but engaged. Boyd's behaviour has become somewhat furtive as he continually skives off to Galway on what Lottie believes is a pretense of seeing his mother. Lottie thinks he's found someone younger so that puts her in a continually bad mood, sniping and snarling at everyone...instead of actually sitting down and talking with Boyd. However, it is Boyd who broaches the subject and says they need to talk at the close of the case. Lottie thinks "This is it. He's changed his mind and doesn't want to marry me. He's found someone else." and voices her thoughts of that nature to him before he can get a word in. But when he does...nothing will prepare her for his revelation.
I do like Lottie but I find her increasingly frustrating. She has an annoying habit of pre-empting everything, which is especially annoying in her personal relationships with her family and Boyd...instead of talking to them. And in many cases she is way off the mark. I really like Boyd though he was more of a silent partner on this outing, probably due to his personal issues. Sometimes I have to wonder what he sees in Lottie but then he is about the only one who keeps her centred when she starts to spiral out of control. Her family feature so little in this book, except as ships passing and all that, although Lottie does enjoy a little outing with her grandson Louis.
I don't think BROKEN SOULS was as exciting or as thrilling as past books but it was still marginally compelling. I think because the case seemed a little convoluted in parts making the investigation long and frustrating on all count. And I found her kids incredibly frustrating as well when they should have been drawn together, particularly after the last case.
BROKEN SOULS is an intriguing police procedural with mystery, murder and mayhem all combined to make for a compelling read. There are references to previous events and occurrences from the series but while I don't think they deter from the storyline, the series is best read in order to gain a fuller understanding and appreciation of Lottie and the other characters.
After the bombshell delivered at the end of this book, I can hardly wait to see what happens for Lottie next!
I would like to thank #PatriciaGibney, #NetGalley and #Bookouture for an ARC of #BrokenSouls in exchange for an honest review.