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Northern Ireland has long needed a really good police procedural writer. Until now, all those who have aspired have tripped themselves up with high body counts, high shock factor, obsession with paramilitaries or poor geography. Or a combination of the above. But Brian McGilloway has created a pretty regular detective - DS Lucy Black - operating in a post Good Friday Agreement PSNI.

In Little Girl Lost, a local businessman's daughter has gone missing and DS Black answers a call about a girl found in an ancient woodland on the outskirts of Derry. Of course, the case is not as straightforward as DS Black would hope and brings her into contact with all the local pond life and causes her to confront demons of her past. The plotting is taut and for the most part credible - although as in so many NI based crime/thriller novels the bodies do start to mount up. The depiction of modern Derry (and Strabane) feels authentic; the dialogue feels real; and the geography is right.

The characterisation does - as is so often the case in crime/thrillers - tend towards cliches and stereotypes although it is possible that DS Black and her family might get fleshed out more in future novels in what will obviously become a series. One suspects there may also be a love interest waiting in the wings.

I do wish, as a small point, that Brian McGilloway had not chosen to refer to DS Black as Lucy throughout the novel. Most crime writers stick to surnames for the police as it helps to remind the reader of their official capacity. Lucy sounds a bit "almost".

I look forward to seeing where Brian McGilloway takes this series - and may well read his previous series. Perhaps Northern Ireland had a good crime writer in our midst all along and just never knew.

 

****0

 

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