Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan

This is a much delayed review/shout-out. I made the mistake of buying a signed first edition as soon as it was released and didn't like the idea of reading it on planes, trains or buses (obviously I can't read it while operating an automobile). However, I'm glad I finally found enough time at home to get around to it. Here are a few thoughts:

The Dead Ground starts out with a scene involving a pregnant woman that'd make most sane people squirm. This vicious opening pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the more grisly elements to the tale, which is the function of a prologue, right (ed - I know what Elmore Leonard thinks about them, be cool (thank you, I'm here all week))?

Public service announcement: The Dead Ground might be better read after your baby is born, should you or your partner be expecting. And maybe you should go in open-minded with regards to the politics behind the book. Surprisingly, this novel, set in a fictional NI town, is less concerned with the traditional tribal tripe that is usually associated with Northern Ireland. It's got important stuff in it. And this is why we need more writers like Claire McGowan focussing on Northern Ireland. She, through her characters, raises many relevant questions on feminism and, more precisely, the issue of abortion.

I'll just leave that there for now. The book, if you want to try to figure out its stance on the subject, is available from all good book retailers.

You can find the blurb and whatnot on the publisher's website.

For my money, this is an excellent addition to the contemporary canon of NI crime fiction that's been building faster than Celtic Tiger houses in recent years. The Paula Maguire series has oodles of potential. Yes, it's crime fiction. Yes, there is mystery, suspense and heartache. Yes, it's the second of a series that I believe should be continued (at the very least) to a third instalment. But it offers more than just a cheap thrill ride. Like all good books should, this one will leave you thinking. And in my case, it'll leave you wanting that third part.

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