I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher (Bookouture) via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

‘The Missing Ones’ is the first in a series by Patricia Gibney featuring Detective Lottie Parker.

It starts off at some point in the past, with 3 terrified children watching an impromptu burial from a high up window and wondering which of them will be next…

Then we move to present day Ragmullin – a small Irish town where we meet 40-something Detective Lottie Parker, recently widowed with 3 teenage children to care for and a long running spat with her Mum, making things difficult.

When Lottie is called out to a murder scene, we learn that the victim, Susan Sullivan, a seemingly unremarkable 50-something town planner, has been strangled to death in a cathedral. Within hours, her boss, James Brown, is also dead – hanging from a tree in an apparent suicide.

Lottie and her partner Boyd set off to try and figure out if and how these deaths are linked, taking them on a journey that includes some disturbing past happenings at St Angela’s former children’s home, a potential liaison with a priest, strange tattoos, switching timelines and a good dollop of twisty mystery thrown in for good measure.

Running alongside the main plot theme are reveals of previous situations that help you to get to know and understand the characters involved, and some good setup for future storylines that will surely reveal themselves as the series progresses. There’s so much going on in this book that you’re never bored and I’m sure the author will have plenty for future instalments!

Lottie is a great character. Strong, intelligent, fiesty, flawed, bloody-minded, and at times so stubborn and reactive that you want to shake her – but I couldn’t help but like her. The story is well written, the characterisation is excellent and the plot keeps you hooked.

Five stars from me!