Written by Sinéad Crowley — Liz Cafferkey works at Tír na nÓg in Dublin. In Gaelic it means The Land of The Young, a place in pre-Christian Irish myth. That’s ironic because in reality Tír na nÓg is a shabby drop-in centre for elderly men. They serve cups of tea and sympathy, and try to help with problems of homelessness and addiction.
Liz has an interesting history. She’s young and beautiful but has survived a spell of debauched living, brought about by having too much money too soon. She was picked up off the street by Tom Carthy, the founder and manager of Tír na nÓg, and now she works there three days a week. When Liz is persuaded to appear on a TV news show to talk about the centre, she becomes an instant media celebrity.
Claire Boyle is a sergeant in the Garda who is slowly working her way back into the job after maternity leave. She is called to a house to investigate the death of an elderly man, and she is quick to realise that he has been murdered. The police build up a picture of the dead man, James Mannion, and learn that he was a retired school teacher, lived on his own, and was a frequent visitor to Tír na nÓg.
After her TV appearance, images of Liz Cafferky appear all over Twitter and Facebook. She discovers a downside to this instant fame. Men are using the freedom of social media to speculate lewdly about how hot she is, but she’s even more devastated to receive a handwritten letter from someone called Stephen. It’s clear that he’s watching from a distance and intends to get much closer.
When another violent death connected to Tír na nÓg brings the police under huge pressure from the media, DS Boyle is drawn headlong into a spell of overtime which places huge pressure reslationship with husband, Tom. Self employed, he becomes a virtual prisoner in his own home, caring for little Anna. As Boyle and her colleague Flynn pick away at the coincidences which thread through the case, they discover that the murder of James Mannion is linked to an incident in a small Irish town 30 years earlier. When Liz Cafferky eventually comes to the police to report her stalker, it seems inconceivable that there can be a link to the Tír na nÓg murders, but there is. It isn’t until a dramatic last act is played out in the drab rooms of the drop-in centre that the full depth of the evil which has lurked under the surface of the case from day one comes into full – and terrifying view.
Claire Boyle is an attractive character, even if she is another version of the standard ‘police officer struggling to balance job demands with home life’ trope. The writing itself is confident and assured, and the Dublin setting is well conveyed. Crowley convinces us that she knows the city personally, and isn’t just sitting there with an A-Z Street Atlas at her side. The little quirks of local colour in the way people spoke to each other are enjoyable and seem authentic. After all, Sinéad Crowley is arts and media correspondent with RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster. The plot is ingenious, plausible and deftly put together, and you will need to be on your finest fettle to anticipate the twist. Without being anything out of the ordinary – hence the rating – this is a thoroughly enjoyable and slickly written story.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars