Patricia Gibney: The Missing Ones


I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

The first in a new thriller series, The Missing Ones follows Detective Lottie Parker as she attempts to uncover the truth behind a series of dead bodies, each baring a similar tattoo on their inner thigh, and each somehow connected to the previous body. As Lottie Parker delves deeper into the case, she begins to see how this case is not only connected to her own life, but how it spans many years back to the 1970s.

When I first came across this novel, I was drawn in by the first few sentences of the synopsis: ‘The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror. The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’ It was intriguing to say the least and instantly gripped me. I wanted to know that little body was and why the children believed that one of them could be next. There are a multitude of questions to be answered and the completion of this case answers them all.

An aspect of this novel that really drew me in and helped make this novel so thrilling(!) was the way in which people were connected. There are a lot of suspects within this case, and a lot of connections between people in the small town of Ragmullin. It is inevitable that people will know other people, even just through hearsay and word of mouth. As Lottie uncovers new bodies and begins to delve into their pasts and understand their last movements before their untimely deaths, Lottie (and the reader) begin to understand that everything is in some way connected. You may believe that someone is not connected to the case and is just an innocent bystander, to then moments later have some inclination that they may be involved in these murders – but in what way? I believe that this, as well as the extensive threads of this investigation and the plot of the story, is what made this novel so interesting and gripping.

As to be expected, you can’t get a Detective series without the flawed Detective! It’s a given and a known stereotype of these types of books but one that, surprisingly, I don’t get bored of. Lottie Parker is a mother of three children, and a widower. She has suffered from grief for a few years to the extent that she has only just recovered from alcoholism and coping with everyday life through the help of Xanax. Lottie is definitely flawed, throwing herself into her work by working long 12-15 hour shifts, forgetting to buy food for her family, not doing the laundry, and altogether leaving her kids to fend for herself. Lottie grows a lot throughout this novel, thanks in part to the connection that she has with those involved in the investigation. Due to events that occur during the investigation, Lottie begins to understand that she needs to focus more on her children by realising that, as much as it may appear they do not need her, they really do. Personality-wise, she is definitely an identifiable character and likable. I found she was a bit on the sarcastic side when bantering with her work colleagues, and she was a strong woman in that she easily held her own against the male antagonists in her life.

The Missing Ones is a novel that should not be put aside and skimmed across. It is filled with twists and turns that surprise you out of nowhere; it is dark, mysterious, and gripping. Perfect for those looking for a thriller where it is anyone’s guess who the culprit is and where you’re constantly looking for clues in the actions and dialogue of those believed to be suspects.


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