I read and enjoyed Dianne Maguire’s first novel What Matters Most, published by the Harper Collins Impulse imprint that releases books as ebooks only. Her second novel Things We Cannot See is another book reflecting Maguire’s background in child welfare and protection.
Fifteen-year-old Alex is found unconscious and her jeans and underpants have been removed. She has been injected in the thigh with a sedative, but there is no evidence of any further sexual assault.
Laura, head of the Sex Crimes Branch, is in charge of the investigation. She has her own personal issues. Her husband Simon has left her and a friendship is blossoming with neighbour Flynn. She has a close relationship with daughter Tara, from a previous relationship, and with grandson Seth. His father is out of the picture until later, raising questions about the benefits for children having their fathers present.
Alex’s best friend Maddi has parents who work in real estate all of the time, and in repayment shower her ‘with everything but their presence’. This is contrast to Alex’s home where she comes home to parents waiting in a warm home, a dog, and dinner cooked, reflects the reality for some children today.
The investigation reveals several suspects – neighbour Roger whose attachment to Alex is bordering on inappropriate, but appears to be on the autism spectrum; teacher Mr Fuller who is eager to counsel Alex, and has a murky past; and step-father Greg, who is behaving strangely and was in the vicinity of the crime.
It raises what teenage girls tell and keep from their parents. Maddi ‘pondered the maze of secrets and lies she was finding herself suddenly trapped in’ on behalf of her friend, together with all of the normal issues for teenagers, then dealing with the public nature of a crime of this nature for a girl of this age, perceptions of young women, the fronts they put up and why. Maguire’s experience in the area reflects the ongoing effects of trauma.
The character of Laura raises the issue of gender and age, both professionally as she deals with the chauvinism in the boys’ club of the police force, and personally around Simon’s departure, and the loss of relevance at a certain age, especially for women.
Available only in an ebook, but for only $7.99, it’s great value.