Irish writer Tana French takes the shocking murder of a twelve-year-old girl, expose the naked motives of the killer and create a dramatic tension that speaks as much to the intimacies of friendship as the motive for murder. Not content with a mystery, the detectives dissecting every aspect of the small village of Knocknaree and its inhabitants in deconstructing the crime, French adds layers of complex emotions to her characters and their histories, the back-story as riveting as the murder. The body of Katy Devlin is found at a local archeological dig, the excavation threatened by a politically-sensitive road soon to be built through the village. Protests and suits have not deterred the government, time critical to the solution of the murders.
Cassie Maddox and her partner, Rob Ryan, are assigned the case, Cassie the only female on the squad. But Cassie's relationship to her partner is extraordinary. Of like mind, they tackle Katie's murder with predictable thoroughness, interview the workers at the dig, the girl's family and friends, gradually assembling a puzzle that will only be solved by painstaking attention to detail. The one anomaly is Rob's background: twenty years earlier, three twelve-year-olds, Jaimie, Adam and Peter disappear, only Adam found later in the woods, his sneakers filled with blood. Traumatized, the boy has no memory of that terrible day. Now another murder has occurred in the same area, detective Rob Ryan the boy found in the woods two decades ago. When Cassie realizes her partner is Adam Ryan, Rob promises to remain objective, to remove himself from the case if he endangers the investigation. What Rob doesn't realize is that such objectivity is out of his control, his emotions heightened the closer they get to the truth, his judgment impaired as the past claims his attention in spite of his best intentions.
Like most murders, this one is rooted in the twisted motives of the killer, the more profound drama playing out in the Murder Squad, where Maddox and Ryan perform their intricate dance with witnesses and suspects, meeting after-hours at Cassie's place late into the night, exploring the dynamics of the case. What Cassie and Rob have not forseen is an emotional complication that that undermines a carefully constructed level of intimacy and mutual respect, Rob's perspective distorted by his childhood trauma, Cassie unable to navigate this treacherous terrain without damaging their friendship, the result painful to both. In spite of their problems, Maddox and Ryan solve Katy's murder and the shocking involvement of an unexpected character, causing a rift between the partners. Life conflicting with career, an intense friendship suffers the consequences of secrets and rash judgments. Luan Gaines/2009.