Book Review: Where They Lie by Claire Coughlan

About the book

Some stories demand to be told. They keep coming back, echoing down through the decades, until they find a teller...

Dublin, 1943.
Actress Julia Bridges disappears. The last sighting of her is entering the house of Gloria Fitzpatrick, who is later put on trial for the murder of another woman whose abortion she facilitated. But it’s never proved that Gloria had a hand in Julia’s death – and Julia’s body has never been found. Gloria, however, is sentenced to life in an institution for the criminally insane, until her apparent suicide a few years later, and the truth of what happened to Julia Bridges dies with her.
Dublin, 1968
Nicoletta Sarto is an ambitious junior reporter for the Irish Sentinel when the bones of Julia Bridges are discovered in the garden of a house on the outskirts of Dublin.
Drawn into investigating the 25-year-old mystery of Julia’s disappearance and her link to the notorious Gloria Fitzpatrick, the story takes Nicoletta into the tangled underworld of the illegal abortion industry, stirring up long-buried secrets from her own past.

As much a murder mystery story as a look at a young woman’s struggle to succeed in a man’s world, Where They Lie is a beautifully atmospheric debut that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Why we love it

A beautifully immersive novel set in 1960s Dublin, Where They Lie by Claire Coughlan follows Nicoletta Sarto, a young reporter, as she investigates the disappearance and murder of actress Julia Bridges back in the 1940s.

Set over two time periods, Where They Lie is a utterly gripping page-turner - the kind of book that you pick up intending to read just a few chapters only to find yourself hours later, still glued to your seat in front of a cold cup of tea, having just devoured the entire thing in one sitting. I loved it.

On one level this is a classic crime mystery - an engaging whodunnit with complex characters, multiple plot twists and perfect pacing that keeps you gripped from start to finish.

But then layered through that, Claire Coughlan skilfully brings to life the realities of life as an independent career woman in both time periods, capturing all the misogyny and prejudice you'd rightly imagine that might bring. The novel addresses complex issues around abortion, miscarriage and still-birth during a time in Irish history when such things were rarely openly discussed, with incredible empathy and sensitivity. 

I can't recommend this book highly enough - an essential addition to your TBR list this year! 

Want to read it?

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