Review: The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney (2017)


My Rating:stars                                          Read: 3/31/2017


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.

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

My Review:

3 stars for this contemporary thriller set in Ireland.

First the good. This book kept me engaged, especially after the 50% mark. The ending was nail-biting. I liked the lead female detective’s family (she has three teen children), and the family elements of the story. I liked the subject matter of the old Catholic home, where young unwed mothers and misbehaving boys were sent, and the back story of the atrocities committed there. It was certainly dark material, but it made for a rich and terrible (in a good way) story. I particularly liked the idea of a group of children who had been abused there and seeing what was going on with them currently. They were all so damaged in interesting ways–from a hoarder to a homeless man.

The author did a good job of keeping multiple suspects in the air and really dragging out the reveals. It was a convoluted plot with so many bad guys operating independently, and multiple climaxes with different aspects of the solution coming out slowly. This was pretty OTT and unrealistic, but it certainly kept up the suspense.

I’ve given the book 3 stars instead of higher because there were a number of places in the story where the detective and her co-gardi behave incredibly stupidly and/or unrealistically to the point where I wanted to punch my ipad. 🙂 Spoilers for those things at the end of this review.

Because of these missteps, and also the overly long length of this story, I’ve rated the book a 3. But if you like quite dark detective stories, can mentally dismiss some stupidity, and also find the subject matter of the “old Catholic asylum for wayward mothers where terrible abuse occurred” interesting, you will enjoy this book.

I received a copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Specifically some of the things in the book I found incredibly annoying/unrealistic are:

Lottie, the detective, is a horrible mother, and while she is grieving for her husband, and acknowledges to herself that she’s terrible, she continues to be terrible thru the book. Her kids are constantly asking for food when she finally shows up at home late, but mostly she tells them to fend for themselves. The final straw that made me want to smack her, though, was the scene where her mother comes to visit and makes the family potatoes and a nice roast chicken because the kids are starving. But Lottie, because she is a screaming bitch, tosses the lovely food in the garbage because she’s pissed at her mom and doesn’t want to accept her food. Seriously? You haven’t fed your kids in weeks but you’re going to bin that roast chicken and potatoes because YOU don’t like your mom? You couldn’t have let your kids eat the meal? Fucking hell. I seriously nearly put the book down there.

There are also so many missteps with the police. Lottie’s boss is either screaming at her to find the killer or threatening her job if she continues to interview the main suspects because they’re “important men”. Really? Apparently his harassment was just for drama’s sake, because his actions make no sense whatsoever. Worst. Cop. Ever.

Second worst cop ever award goes to Lottie’s partner, Boyd, who takes a call from her in a crowded locker room, standing next to one of their suspects, and repeats her info out loud and writes it down, even using a pen the suspect hands him! Later, he swears he didn’t “tell anyone” the info and only WAY later is like, oh yeah, that’s right, I did repeat that in front of a suspect. But hey, he goes to my gym so he can’t be that bad. DOH!

And then there’s the way Lottie decides to stop taking calls from Father Joe, because she suspects he just likes her likes her, even though Father Joe has critical info on the case and risked his own job getting it for her. And she knows this. But nope. Feck the case. She just hangs up on him when he calls her–repeatedly. When he finally tracks her down and hands her the critical info he has that he’s, you know, been trying to tell her, what does she say? “I don’t have time for this!”. She promptly ignores that info for hours. Said info then reveals the killer, of course.

But the truly unforgivable thing for me was how, when Lottie and another cop find the two missing boys, one of them is in the process of being hung/strangled right then but Lottie’s thoughts are only for her own son, who is not, like, currently hanging in the air with his face turning purple. Lottie proceeds to have a long convo with the killer. The author keeps us guessing about whether or not the other boy is dead, saying he is, then hinting he isn’t, apparently for the sake of drama. In the end, yup, he died. Oh well. Like SERIOUSLY. Lottie and her partner interrupt this scene WHILE the boy is being hung, and they don’t manage to save him? That was HORRIBLE, not just because the boy died, but because of how utterly incompetent it makes them and, in Lottie’s case, stupid, utterly self-centered, and uncaring. She really lost me there.



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