From the bestselling author of What You Did comes a true-crime investigation that cast a dark shadow over the Ireland of her childhood.
Ireland in the 1990s seemed a safe place for women. With the news dominated by the Troubles, it was easy to ignore non-political murders and sexual violence, to trust that you weren’t going to be dragged into the shadows and killed. But beneath the surface, a far darker reality had taken hold.
Through questioning the society and circumstances that allowed eight young women to vanish without a trace―no conclusion or conviction, no resolution for their loved ones―bestselling crime novelist Claire McGowan delivers a candid investigation into the culture of secrecy, victim-blaming and shame that left these women’s bodies unfound, their fates unknown, their assailants unpunished.
McGowan reveals an Ireland not of leprechauns and craic but of outdated social and sexual mores, where women and their bodies were of secondary importance to perceived propriety and misguided politics—a place of well-buttoned lips and stony silence, inadequate police and paramilitary threat.
Was an unknown serial killer at large or was there something even more insidious at work? In this insightful, sensitively drawn account, McGowan exposes a system that failed these eight women—and continues to fail women to this day.
love Claire McGowan as a crime writer-her books have always felt well researched and authentic so I was curious about this as it’s something of a departure for her. Although saying that, it’s incredibly obvious that this book means more to her in someways than her fictional work-it positively radiates with her personal penchant for the truth about the real life crimes contained within its pages. The author knows that there are other books out there about the horrific murders and disappearances that took place very near to where she was born and raised and she decides to concentrate on the social and emotional fallout from that period in time that now feels completely at odds with our current social media driven society. A lot of information is given very quickly and the only thing I would say is that it would have been useful to have had some sort of timeline/graphic to refer to where all of the women were grouped together in one place. This would have made it easier for me to process each case as often the narrative came back to victims several times. Saying that, I did love the way everything was finely chopped down and then reconstructed in different ways to look at coincidences and similarities until all the pieces were there but with too many missing to complete the puzzle, this was never going to be a “grand reveal” true crime expose and I’m glad of that.
Fascinating, deeply disturbing and thought provoking-highly recommended.
Claire McGowan grew up in a small village in Northern Ireland, and now lives in London. She also writes women’s fiction under the name Eva Woods.
You can find out more about Claire and her books at http://www.ink-stains.co.uk