The Stolen Girls Blog Tour
Last year Patricia Gibney arrived on the crime book scene with her debut novel The Missing Ones.
The first book was excellent and this book hasn’t proved to be the “difficult second book” in fact, if anything, The Stolen Girls is even better than the first.
This story has many layers, there are plots that run parallel to the main one and create their own intrigue, whilst weaving in and out of the main story.
The young girl being held captive and abused.
The immigrants held in the local “immigration centre”
The young woman, forced into prostitution, and her son that turn up on DI Lottie Parker’s door step.
The mutilated bodies that start turning up in roadworks all over the small midlands Irish town of Ragmullin.
A local gangster that has been in hiding in Spain, returning to town and causing chaos.
The Kosovo conflict of the late 90’s and the actions of some of the British troops, and the effect those actions are having today.
The list doesn’t end there but I don’t want to spoil the book.
All, of these threads are crafted together like different twines in a tapestry to make a fantastic picture.
The story is fast paced, and even at a moderately thick 461 pages the book flies by.
It’s not just the story that makes the book special, it’s the characters.
Patricia’s main protagonist is Lottie Parker, a mid 40’s Detective Inspector in Ragmullin’s Major Investigation Team. Lottie is struggling to bring up her 3 teenage children on her own since the death of her Husband Adam. She buries herself in her work and relies on her mother to help her with caring for the children. But the children have problems and Lottie isn’t seeing them. This provides a great subplot to the main story.
DS Mark Boyd is a great foil for Lottie. They work together well and have a great bickering but supportive relationship; and they need it because their boss Superintendant Corrigan is an Arse. These two supporting characters make Lottie’s working life more than a little interesting.
The villians and the victims are also well written and add so much to the realism of the books. Is everybody as they seem, maybe not. Patricia has a great way of making the reader believe a character is bad, or good, whilst twisting what they do and say to make your opinion of them change throughout.
The crimes are that well written that at times I thought Patricia was trawling the newspapers to find the dark side of the criminal world to incorporate them in her novels. The balance works so well that, as a reader, I never thought it was far-fetched, it flows, from beginning to end, and it kept me hooked.
When Bookouture approached me to do this blog I asked if I could ask Patricia a few questions. She agreed so between an email exchange, a few twitter interchanges and a little bit of research this is what I know about the lady who is, in my opinion, the best debut Crime Fiction writer of the last 12 months.
I asked Patricia about where the character Lottie had come from
I created Lottie as this strong (and at times, not so strong) character. If I’m t be honest, she was a little bit of an enigma to me. When I was writing her, I felt her come alive – I saw her as a real person. I know that’s an old cliché but it is true.
I am a widowed mother with three children and I said to myself, lets put Lottie in the same situation and see how she copes. I gave her three teenagers, hyped up the mayhem and drama, and let them loose. I must say Lottie is prone to making a mess of things at home and at the same time she is highly dedicated to her job. When she is working on a case, I believe she forgets that Adam is dead and conjures up an image of him at home with the kids. No matter what she thinks, she hasn’t come to terms with Adam’s death or with her own family history. Therefore, she can come across as a bad mother. I want the reader to delve beneath Lottie’s surface and realise that inside, Lottie is struggling big time.
As I’ve continued with her journey, her home-life and family woes have evolved, and in Book 3 I try to let the reader see something of what might be another reason why Lottie is the way she is.
My next question was about the crimes and the characters involved in the book. For a little Irish Midlands town they seem to have the same problems as some of our inner cities. I love them by the way. So where do these crimes come from. Your imagination or does something in the news at home, or from further afield trigger an idea. In her answer she talks about situations from her first two books
I have a very dark and murderous imagination! And then every town has secrets it wants to keep buried.
I attempt to give some context to the murders via historical and more recent historical events. In Ireland we’ve had the revelations of the horrific treatment of women and girls in the mother and baby homes and also the issue of worldwide clerical sexual abuse. I didn’t set out to write about this – I was actually writing about corruption re planning and developers – but St Angela’s reared it’s head and the little children looked out of the window and I was drawn into their story.
The Srebrenica massacre horrified me – I compared it to the horror from the Nazi regime – but I was also struck by the illegal organ harvesting in Kosovo. With The Stolen Girls, I focused on the Kosovo atrocities and brought the terror to present day Ragmullin.
Your description of the Police, they’re procedures, and what is going on in the teams minds are great. Have you spent time doing the job, or researched it somehow.
I am an avid crime thriller reader and love watching TV police series. I also have a couple of detective friends who hate to see me coming or my name popping up on their phone! Only joking, I think. When I have queries on procedures etc, I lift the phone and hound my detective friends.
Also in this book you used the illegal organ trade and the Balkan conflict. My question there is did the problems of the war give you the idea for the story. Or was there a story line in your thoughts and then you researched to find a war that would fit the blog
History was my overall favourite subject at school and I read a lot about the Balkan conflict as it was unfolding. I fictionalised events for the story but the illegal organ harvesting that occurred during and after the conflict is based on fact. So to answer your question, I created the storyline around the conflict.
My last question is about future books. I look forward to seeing what’s happening to your characters as much as I do the next story. So. Are things going to get any better for Lottie and her Adam. Or can we expect more heartache and stress for Lottie whilst the kids carry on struggling through their different problems.
Oh you can be sure things are not going to get much better! But I’m not totally heartless, so I might allow Lottie a little light relief and happiness along the way.
I have also found out that Patricia is editing the third book whilst writing the 4th in the series. Great news I am already looking forward to reading both of these.
Patricia. Thank You for answering my questions, but most of all thank you for these great books.
The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney is published by Bookouture, and is available on Amazon.The two links below are to my original reviews of The Stolen Girls and The Missing Ones.