Dead Girls Dancing (DS Katie Macguire #8), by Graham Masterton

Eight stars

Those who have followed me closely this summer will know that I am currently in the middle of an epic binge of Irish police procedurals by Graham Masterton. The author never ceases to impresses with a collection whose crimes prove as chilling and graphic as anything I have come across. The narrative flow is smooth and characters develop throughout the series, adding something for those who have followed from the opening novel. Masterton shows how he can use Irish-themed ideas to keep the series flowing, educating and entertaining in equal measure.

A fire in Cork’s downtown core leaves many dead, including an entire dance troupe. Of those who survive, one little girl is unclaimed and since she is not speaking, there is no way to track her. Detective Superintendent Katie Macguire works as best she can to help her, but there’s something not entirely right about the situation or this young survivor.

While the investigation turns to an arson inquest, DS Macguire is forced to deal with her own personal issues, which includes trying to understand what’s going on with her current lover. He has a secret he failed to share with her, but seems keen to make a future with her, no matter what the cost. Another love interest emerges and complicates the scenario, especially since there is a workplace aspect. Then again, DS Macguire never does things in a straightforward manner.

As the investigation takes on new importance, there is an IRA angle that could explain it all. DS Macguire and her team must be careful, as this could leave more bodies in the wake of these discoveries. The little girl could be the key to it all, though learning the truth about her identity could create even more trouble for the Garda. Politically rich and full of Irish flavouring, Masterton keeps the series strong with another stellar novel.

Graham Masterton has created something well worth the attention I have been giving it. With strong themes, set in the heart of Ireland, this is a police procedural that will tug on the reader’s lapels and not let go throughout. Themes related the political goings-on and regionalism prove successful in keeping the tension up, while providing the reader with something new and exciting. What luck I had in discovering this series and how pleased I am that things have been going so well.

Masterton is at the top of his game with this collection of novels, though he was a household name for many who love the horror genre over the last number of years. There is strong narrative development, both within the book and throughout the entire series, allowing the reader to get a sense of what is going on and stray focussed. Character development builds with each novel, offering a cast that is reliable and permits the reader to see growth. The development of DS Katie Macguire is most prominent, as should be the case with any strong protagonist, but it is primarily her personal life that keeps readers intrigued. Masterton supplies great plot twists and countless cliffhangers to leave the series ever-evolving, which has me rushing back to find the next novel as soon as I complete a review. I can see things getting more intense with these novels, which only means that Masterton is honing his skills even more.

Kudos, Mr. Masterton, for keeping me highly entertained throughout.