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Wednesday 8 November 2023

‘Wish You Were Here’ by Nicola Monaghan

Published by Verve Books,
27 July 2023.
ISBN: 978-0-85730-808-5 (PBO)

Dr Sian Love is an expert on DNA who has set up her own business working in DNA related investigations. This is usually a far more controlled profession than Sian’s previous employment as a detective specialising in undercover work, which, along with childhood trauma, has left her suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sian recognises that she needs help to deal with the after effects of her experiences but she is not a person who finds it easy to open up to anyone. Reluctantly she agrees to the pleas of her mother and her partner, Kris, to make an appointment with a psychologist.

When she attends the first meeting she is dismayed to discover that Morgan, her psychologist, is a woman that she had encountered socially at a dinner party held by Sian’s brother. The psychologist’s partner was a woman that Sian had despised because she was loudly expressing opinions that were uninformed, judgemental and extremely right wing. Admittedly Morgan had been less objectionable than her partner, but Sian still feels uncomfortable opening up to somebody she has met in a social situation and who has connections to her family. Despite this Sian is concerned enough about the panic attack she has just experienced to accept Morgan’s assurance that she will always maintain a professional relationship and strict confidentiality and Sian starts a course of treatment.

As a rule, Sian’s DNA investigations are run of the mill enquiries from adopted children seeking their birth parents or other situations where people are seeking the truth about family relationships. Although sometimes Sian’s clients are not happy about what her DNA investigations have discovered, it is usually an easily dealt with and professional matter. However, Sian is concerned when she receives the results for a woman who wanted the truth about her paternity and Sian has to tell her that her biological father is a man that nobody would wish to claim as a parent.

Sian’s most unusual and challenging case begins unexpectedly when a young woman comes to her office and tells her that she believes she may be Courtney Johnson, who, as a small child, had disappeared from a beach in Brighton, fifteen years ago. The girl, Ana, bases this belief on her likeness to a picture she has seen in a newspaper which shows a picture of Courtney as she is predicted to look now, and Sian has to admit the resemblance is undeniable. Ana also claims that her mother has always been secretive about their past. However, Ana refuses to give Sian a DNA sample, even though this would be the simplest and most foolproof way of confirming the truth about her identity. Despite this, Sian takes Ana’s Case and draws on her old undercover skills to investigate Ana’s claims.

The situation is complicated when Ana turns up at Sian’s home. She is high on drink and drugs and implies she got her address from Sian’s psychologist. Sian is furious about this and, after making a scene in Morgan’s office, swears to leave treatment.

Kris, who is still a serving police officer, proves to be invaluable in this investigation and helps Sian by drawing on his own skills and contacts. Together they probe through a quagmire of false trails and lies to establish the truth about Ana’s suspicions and Courtney’s fate, but the nearer they draw to the truth the more life-threatening the investigation becomes.

Wish You Were Here is the second novel featuring Dr Sian Love. It is a novel with a complex plot, fascinating scientific details and strongly drawn protagonists, who despite their personal challenges and character flaws are driven by their determination to discover the truth however difficult and dangerous it may be. This is an interesting action-packed novel with a strong message and marked contemporary details.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Nicola Monaghan won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and the Waverton Good Read for her first novel, The Killing Jar. She also wrote The Night Lingers and other stories, Starfishing and The Okinawa Dragon have been published widely in newspapers, magazines and anthologies. She writes for screen too and is working on her first feature. She teaches Creative Writing at De Montfort University.

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book click on the title
The Curse of the Concrete Griffin

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