Murder comes in threes to a village in County Clare.
It’s hard for DS Danny Ahern to reassure his young son that the boy didn’t see the Grey Man, the legendary evil spirit that lives in the mist and sucks the life out of its victims. The child insists that he saw the spirit dragging someone past the house. Danny almost becomes a believer when a nameless teenage boy found in a pasture dies in his arms. Trained in hardheaded police work, Danny still wonders when he sees sparrows taking flight; the local myth is that they’re soul bearers. Nor can he shake the feeling that worse is yet to come. It should be a happy time: it’s the September Matchmaking Festival, which turns his village of Lisfenora into a tourist attraction every year and brings locals and strangers to Liam the Matchmaker. Liam’s assisted by his American daughter, Merrit Chase, still an outsider a year after her first meeting with Liam. Now someone’s painted “slag” on her car in magenta, a reference to the part Merrit supposedly played in Danny’s separation from his wife. The owner of a high-end gift store also complains about graffiti, but with the murder of Lost Boy on his hands, Danny has no time for vandalism. Dermot McNamara and his sister, Gemma, may have some answers. They’ve come to the village to find John McIlvoy, the stepfather who killed their mother. Gemma, who witnessed the murder, has been selectively mute ever since. Dermot claims that Lost Boy was the cousin who was helping them find McIlvoy, the designer of a pendant and a pair of earrings that are key to the case. Before Danny can figure out why, his foreboding comes true with two more homicides and a tangle of blackmail, betrayal, and revenge.
A worthy successor to Kilmoon (2014) in tone, mood, complexity, and keen insight into human failures and triumphs.