Carroll & Graf, 2002 (2002)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
he protagonist of this
thriller, Maureen O'Donnell, is something of an anti-heroine. Abused by her own father, she has spent time in a psychiatric hospital, which of course reduces her credibility with officialdom. Suspected of a lover's murder in a previous episode,
, she is now the key witness in the trial (for the same murder) of the only psychologist who has ever been able to help her deal with her childhood, and with the disbelief of other family members.
aureen is desperately trying to cope with her past and with alcoholism. She steadily strips her Glasgow apartment of its contents and barely holds on to her sanity, with help from her friends and a support group. Threatening notes and videotapes from the jailed psychologist don't help matters, nor does the fact that her father is back in town, and that her sister is about to have her baby and plans to involve its grandfather in the child's care.
aureen and her friend Leslie sell illegally imported cigarettes for a living at a flea market. When a not particularly likeable old woman, neighboring stallholder '
', asks for Maureen's help with a lawsuit and subsequently dies, Maureen investigates. This pulls her into even more trouble, distrust from all around her including her closest friends, and personal peril. Along with the mystery, the author shows us a family torn apart by denial of a parent's abuse, and eventually gives it some relief.
is a dark, raw and gripping tale, whose very vulnerable heroine has a tough core. Though the author does not give Maureen an easy
, she does engage our interest and compassion. I plan to acquire the other books in the series,
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