An Irish expatriate steps back into a nightmare from her student days.
Alison Smith left St. Johns College in Dublin two days after her boyfriend was arrested for murdering five female students, and she’s stayed away for nearly 10 years. She’s found contentment of a sort at a job in the Netherlands, though she continues to resist a friend’s attempts to set her up with eligible men. Then two Irish detectives come to her door and ask her to come home and talk to her ex, Will Hurley. He’s been in a psychiatric hospital ever since he confessed to being the killer who preyed on lone female students. But now another victim’s body has been found in Dublin’s Grand Canal, and Will says he has information he’ll share only with Alison. Even though she's spent the last decade pretending her year at St. Johns never happened, Alison agrees to help Will prove his innocence. It’s a plus that Michael Malone, one of the two Garda detectives who brought her back to Dublin, also thinks Will is telling the truth. In flashbacks, we see Alison's excitement at leaving her childhood home in Cork for Dublin, searching for student digs and going to parties, her romance with Will, and her growing doubts about her BFF Liz’s friendship. But she never doubted Will, never suspected him, and never thought that her desire to tell the truth would lead to his guilty plea. It’s partly to right that unintentional wrong—and partly because of the encouragement from Detective Malone—that she tries to find the real Canal Killer. Amid distracting details about clothes and cushions, she confronts not only a past tragedy, but a current threat.
Although Howard (Distress Signals, 2017) meanders a bit through the streets and shops and pubs of Cork and Dublin, she picks up the pace when it most matters—and tosses a lovely curveball at the end, too.