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Friday, 8 February 2019

‘Village of The Lost Girls’ by Agustin Martinez

Published by Quercus Books,
24 January 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78648-843-5 (TPB)

In the village of Monteperdido in the shadow of the Pyrenees, two eleven year old girls, Ana and Lucia disappear without trace.

Five years later Ana is recovered from a car crash at the bottom of a ravine, near the village. She is unconscious but otherwise unhurt. The driver of the car is killed instantly.

Victor Gamero a sergeant with the Guardia Civil is most put out when Assistant Inspector Sara Campos and her boss Inspector Santiago Bain of the Policia Nacional are drafted in from Madrid. He feels it is a local matter and he should be left to deal with it. The concern is though that the local police failed to solve the disappearance of the girls five years ago, so can they be relied on to get to the bottom of it now?

Everyone is really worried that as the driver of the car was killed, is Lucia hidden somewhere that no one but the driver knows about?

When Ana regains consciousness, she says she has no idea where they were kept but it was in a basement in a derelict building in the forest. A frantic search is carried out over acres and acres of tree covered mountainous terrain. Ana also tells Sara and Santiago that whenever the man was with them, he wore a large black motor cycle helmet with a visor, they never saw his face, and that the man in the car was her rescuer.

The village is a close-knit community and feelings run high when it is suggested that someone living locally is responsible. They want it to be an outsider. The villagers have their own secrets of some kind or another to hide and the detectives become frustrated at the lack of co-operation from many of them. It doesn't help that they often speak a language of their own, a mixture of different regions of Spain.

The doctors confirm Ana has had sex although she denied it and so a search goes out for someone with a history of child pornography. Can this be another thing the village is keeping quiet about? Feelings now run really high as secrets are revealed, even putting Sara and Santiago's lives in danger.

Can they find Lucia in time to prevent her suffering any more in some lonely remote place hidden in the mountains, helpless at the hands of some twisted monster?

A beautiful setting for an at times harrowing story. It is hard to begin to imagine what the two families must have gone through.  It is very well written and full of interesting characters leading the reader down many a blind alley. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Agustín Martínez was born in 1975 and studied Audiovisual Communications in Madrid. Today, he is one of Spain’s most renowned screenwriters who has worked on some of the country’s most popular crime series. On a holiday trip with his family to the Pyrenees he overheard the locals talking about the case of a missing child. The idea for Village of the Lost Girls, his first novel, was born and has been translated into many languages since.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

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