Source: Review copy
Publication: 13 June 2019 from Orion
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.
I was a big fan of Margaret Kirk’s first Lukas Mahler book, so was eager to dig into this, the second in the series. Reading fine as a stand -alone, it’s still not too far into the series to resist picking up Shadow Man and starting from the beginning.
Let’s start by saying that, if anything, I think What Lies Buried is better than Shadow Man. The plots are neatly layered with just enough complexity; the characters are finely drawn and believable and Kirk moves things on, so that you don’t feel that everything has been waiting in aspic for the reader to come along and peel off the plastic layer on top before digging in.
Two cases and one simmering thread running through the series. A child has been abducted and the police are chasing their tails trying to find clues to help them understand what’s going on, showing the dogged, relentless and painstaking work that goes into a priority case like this one, not to mention the inordinate amount of unhealthy foodstuffs.
The press are baying at the police’s heels, the family is fracturing and tempers are fraying. Then the unthinkable happens; another child goes missing.
Meanwhile, developers are happily churning away at one of Inverness city’s dwindling green spots when they literally fall over human remains. Not only is this a murder case, but two sets of dog tags in the grave make them wonder just whose bones they have?
Lukas Mahler and his team have a lot on their plates and Lukas is still beating himself up over his own shortcomings from his last case. When he finds that Anna is back in town he little thinks that this case will bring her once again into danger.
Sitting rather well alongside these parallel cases is the returning thread of Mr. Hollander. A little reminiscent of ‘H’in Line of Duty, the reader can’t help but wonder who is really pulling all of the strings that Hollander has at his/her disposal and how far do these tentacles reach?
Margaret Kirk offers a vivid evocation of Inverness and the Highlands and her brilliant character descriptions of such as Fergie and his abominable Audi are so spot on that you really can smell the rancid interior of that car.
Verdict: A dark and well-executed, fast paced crime thriller that grabs the attention and doesn’t let go. Kirk has created a great series of characters, and Lukas Mahler is definitely a keeper.
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.
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.