The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson

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Gloria Harkness lives in a ramshackle cottage with only her aging dog and cats for company. The cottage lies within the grounds of a care home in which Gloria’s teenage son lives.  Her life is quiet, her days filled with work as a registrar and her evenings spent visiting her son and trying to keep the cottage in a habitable condition.  All this changes one night when a childhood friend turns up at her door.  He claims that he is being stalked and has been coerced into meeting his stalker nearby.  Gloria finds herself in the middle of a situation which she fears could threaten the very future of the care home and her son.

I found this book fairly slow to get moving but it was very atmospheric and Gloria is a very likeable character. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that the care home was briefly used as an alternative school until the death of a pupil resulted in its closure.  The fate of its former pupils becomes intrinsically entwined in the current mystery.  I must confess to having some difficulty keeping track of who was in the school at the start but just as Gloria becomes familiar with their stories, so do we.

I would recommend The Child Garden if you enjoy a tense, slow-burning mystery.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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