This book, which is quite long (longest audio book I’ve listened to to date) gives the readers two mysteries for the price of one. Back in 1984, three 12-year-olds went missing in the wood of a Dublin suburb. Search parties eventually found one of them, Adam Ryan, clutching a tree trunk in catatonic terror, several rips at the back of his t-shirt and his shoes filled with blood. His two friends, however, were gone without a trace. Adam didn’t remember anything since entering the wood in the afternoon.
Twenty years later, Adam Ryan goes by his middle name, Robert, and is a murder detective on the Dublin Murder Squad. He keeps his past secret from his colleagues, with the exception of his partner and best friend, Cassie Maddox. He still doesn’t remember anything from that fateful day, and prefers to keep it that way. Rob and Cassie find themselves as the primary investigators of the murder of a young girl, found beaten, strangled and left on a sacrificial altar at an archaeological site in Rob’s old home town. The case, when they start investigating, bears a lot of parallels to the disappearance of Rob’s two best friends, but despite this, Rob insists on keeping his connection to the earlier case secret from his colleagues and claims he’s fine to continue investigating the murder.
The case turns out to be a tricky one. Katy, the young victim, was a talented ballet dancer, about to go off to the Ballet Academy on a full scholarship. Her abilities had garnered a lot of press attention – could she have been killed by a crazed fan or a paedophile? Katy’s father had received threatening phone calls due to his involvement with the “Move the Motorway” campaign, trying to protect the archaeological remains from a scheduled motorway expansion. Ryan and Maddox also get seriously off vibes from Katy’s family, with Katy’s twin Jessica being nearly catatonic, the older sister Rosalind strangely anxious and overprotective, the mother being nearly indifferent and the father with clear anger issues.
As the investigation progresses, Ryan is forced to delve into his past, gradually uncovering snippets of memory as he walks the streets and countryside of his old home. Can Katy’s murder shed a light on the unsolved mystery of his friends’ disappearance? Will Ryan crack under the stress he’s experiencing, before either case is solved?