The Dead Ground – Claire McGowan

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A month before Christmas, and Ballyterrin on the Irish border lies under a thick pall of snow. When a newborn baby goes missing from hospital, it’s all too close to home for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, who’s wrestling with the hardest decision of her life.

Then a woman is found in a stone circle with her stomach cut open and it’s clear a brutal killer is on the loose.

As another child is taken and a pregnant woman goes missing, Paula is caught up in the hunt for a killer no one can trace, who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

The Dead Ground is the second outing for McGowans forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, and opens just a few weeks after the events of previous novel The Lost. Maguire is having to come to terms with the consequences of her recent actions, an unplanned pregnancy with two potential fathers, both of which come with their own sets of problems.

Maguire is a woman used to being able to make decisions about her own future, and McGowan deals well with issues she faces as a woman seeking a solution to a life changing situation in a country where abortion is still illegal.  She also handles well the strained relationships and fine political lines being walked both between the Serious Crime division and MPRU, as well as between the Northern and Southern Ireland police forces.

With an intelligent plot, and a killer most won’t see coming, The Dead Ground is a great read, and for those of you who haven’t read the first book, don’t be put off picking this up and reading it first.  It works well on its own, with enough information from The Lost to help you understand Maguires situation, and not enough to spoil your enjoyment of the book should you choose to go back and read it later.

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