Without A Word by Kate McQuaile

The Blurb On The Back:

Lillian had phoned, telling her to get Skype up and running.  “I have so much to tell you.”  Then suddenly the knock on the door.  “Sorry, Orla, I’d better see who it is,” she said.  Orla waited.  The seconds became minutes.  She didn’t know how long she waited before she realised that something terrible had happened. 

Ten years later, Lillian’s sudden disappearance remains unsolved and Orla has found it impossible to move on.  Then Orla received an unexpected visit from the detective who led the investigation into Lillian’s vanishing.  Detective Ned Moynihan has been receiving anonymous notes accusing him of having failed to investigate the case properly.  He assumes the notes are coming from Orla, but she knows nothing of them – is somebody trying to tell the truth about what really happened to Lillian that night? 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s November 2006.  Orla Breslin is originally from Ardgreeney (a small Irish town) and now works as a journalist in London and has a long-distance relationship with Jamie (a teacher in Edinburgh).  Her best friend Lillian Murray has just moved to Ardgreeney after getting engaged to Aidan McManus, a former professional rugby player who’s suffered an injury and is now planning to turn his family manor into a luxury hotel.

When Orla arranges a Skype call with Lillian, Lillian’s interrupted half way through by a knock on the door.  She gets up to answer it … and never comes back.  Instead Orla’s horrified to see Lillian’s house catch fire and a human figure stumble through the flames.  The case is assigned to Ned Moynihan but while he quickly establishes that the burnt body found in Lillian’s house is local man, Patsy McLennan, he can’t find any trace of what’s happened to Lillian.

10 years later and Orla and Jamie have moved to Ardgreeney to open a café.  Their arrival coincides with someone writing letters to Moynihan taunting him that he botched the original investigation, which is why he suspects Orla as being responsible but when she denies it he begins to suspect that there may have been another witness to the disappearance, a witness who can tell him what really happened …

Kate McQuaile’s psychological thriller has an interesting premise and unfurls at a fairly good pace but is burdened by a lot of heavy (and at times unnecessary) backstory, some obvious twists and an ending that’s unfortunately too obvious from the start to be truly enjoyable.

Although the book has a great premise, my main issue it was its predictability – there isn’t a twist in this novel that I didn’t see coming from the start, which means that for me it lacked tension.  As protagonists go, Orla is fine – I wanted to see more of her friendship with Lillian before the disappearance (especially given some of the later plot developments) but her relationship with Jamie is one-note to the extent that I wondered why they were together.  Ned isn’t particularly convincing as an investigator, especially given some of the obvious flaws in the initial investigation (which seem to exist only to serve as plot points in the second half) and I had to wonder what he saw in his shrewish, hectoring and over-emotional wife.  McQuaile tries too hard to establish connections between Ned and Orla, with a revelation about Ned’s past coming too late for it to have meant

The action does at least take place at a fairly good pace and I enjoyed the depiction of Argreeney as a small Irish town that’s starting to fall prey to developers and although this book didn’t really work for me, I would still check out McQuaile’s other books.

WITHOUT A WORD will be released in the United Kingdom on 19th October 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

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