Today it is my pleasure to share my thoughts on the very latest Lukas Mahler novel from Margaret Kirk, What Lies Buried. My thanks to publisher Orion for providing an advance copy for review and to Laura Sherlock for inviting me to review. It’s only been a couple of weeks since I read the first book, Shadow Man, but boy, have I missed Mahler and co. Here’s what the books about:
About the Book
A missing child. A seventy-year-old murder. And a killer who’s still on the loose.
Ten year-old Erin is missing; taken in broad daylight during a friend’s birthday party. With no witnesses and no leads, DI Lukas Mahler races against time to find her. But is it already too late for Erin – and will her abductor stop at one stolen child?
And the discovery of human remains on a construction site near Inverness confronts Mahler’s team with a cold case from the 1940s. Was Aeneas Grant’s murder linked to a nearby POW camp, or is there an even darker story to be uncovered?
With his team stretched to the limit, Mahler’s hunt for Erin’s abductor takes him from Inverness to the Lake District. And decades-old family secrets link both cases in a shocking final twist.Available from: Amazon | Waterstones | Kobo | Google Play | Apple Books
Man this book is good. Part of my marathon reading session of three books in less than two days this past weekend, I tore through this book. It is a story which is compelling, borderline harrowing due to the story of the missing girl, and full of tension, fabulous characters and a brilliantly atmospheric back drop. It’s the kind of book that just pulled me straight in and held me captive without my even realising it had done it.
Without a doubt, one of the big draws for me in this series, aside from the setting of Inverness and the Highlands which is a picturesque and underused part of Scotland as far as crime fiction goes, but one that comes with its own set of complexities and conflicts, is one hundred percent the characters. The stand outs in these books are without question DI Lukas Mahler, a slightly straight edged, brilliantly flawed and completely focused man with a high moral code, and his DS, Iain Ferguson, or Fergie as he is better known. He of the dodgy Audi and affable nature. They make a brilliant team, a stark contrast to the other DI at Burnett Road, Andy Black. Now there’s a man you love to hate …
Anyhoo, back to Mahler and Fergie. In this book they are faced with two very different, equally difficult cases but for two very polar reasons. Firstly, the whole squad are well into the investigation of the suspected abduction of a young girl from a birthday party. This is the hardest part of this book and although none of the story is dealt with graphically, the very nature of this storyline, especially when we are faced with a scene from the child’s point of view, is tough to read about. The second case is a very, very cold case. Seventy years cold in which it is hard to know if they will ever get an ID on their victim, let alone trace any family who might be missing them. Mix in an as yet unsolved hit and run case which has been bubbling along since book one and you have a veritable mix which will both tax and rattle the investigative team.
This book is full of emotion, of all different kinds, both that of the frustrated and hard working police team, but also the families of the victims and, in some cases the victims themselves. But far from being tiring for me as a reader, the author has captured these emotions so well that while they spill from the page, they spur you on rather than wearing you down. You feel those moments when the teams spirits sag, but take the triumphs along with them when they come. It is a bumpy ride, full of peaks and troughs, but a ride I am very glad I have taken. I love the little colloquialisms, the references to places and areas I know, that just draw me in as a reader. Even the feeling of the city itself, the whole thing makes you want to be a part of it.
Due to the very nature of the cases being investigated, this is not a fast paced novel. The setting would dictate otherwise anyway as Inverness is hardly a hotbed of crime. But it works perfectly in this context and adds to the authenticity of the story. There are moments of tension and peril, just as there were in the first book, and they kept me on edge as a reader. Lukas Mahler is put through the wars in this book too, keeping the casualty department of the local hospital in business if nothing else. And it’s not just his head that is taking a bit of a battering this time around as Anna Murray is back from San Diego, possibly for good, and that spark that exists between them is still very much there.
This is a brilliantly spun story, one which includes a hint of something, how shall I put it, otherworldly or pagan, which actually ties perfectly into the narrative and adds a spark of interest into the narrative. Full of interesting characters, some charming or at least intriguing, others very much less so, it is a book that, despite the tough subject matter, had me well and truly hooked from the start and which I tore through in no time at all. Definitely a book, and a series, I would recommend. I’m loving it.
About the Author
Margaret Kirk writes ‘Highland Noir’ Scottish crime fiction, set in and around her home town of Inverness.
Her debut novel, Shadow Man, won the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition in 2016. Described as ‘a harrowing and horrific game of consequences’ by Val McDermid, it was published in 2017 by Orion. Book 2 in the DI Lukas Mahler series, What Lies Buried, was published on 13th June 2019.
Margaret is also the writer of several award-winning short stories, including The Seal Singers, which has been published in translation in Germany, and Still Life, which was broadcast on Radio 4 as part of the ‘Scottish Shorts’ series.