AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK // REVIEW BY IZZY ASTUTO
When I first looked up Dark Waters, I was a little intimidated. I hadn’t read the first book and historically hate going into series that way, no matter how anthological the author claims it to be. However, Gaye Maguire did a brilliant job at making this book completely accessible for any audience, no matter how familiar they are with Kate Hamilton.
Kate is this series’ protagonist, a detective tasked, in this instalment, with uncovering the mystery around young Emily Stillman, who posted her suicide note in the form of a viral Youtube video. Given the nickname “The Girl in the Red Dress”, her body is found in the ocean a few days later. Her tragic suicide is marked by the discovery that evidence of sexual assault is found on her corpse, leading Kate to suspect this could be part of the reason this otherwise bright and happy girl would kill herself.
Remnants of the last book, Blood Mothers, are present still, though artfully weaved through the existing plot. Kate, having been adopted, doesn’t know her biological family, and due to the mystery from the first book, she learns she may finally be able to meet one of the members. The building relationship between Kate and her long-lost grandmother, Marina, does a good job at characterizing Kate outside of her job.
This book also works off relationships presumably introduced and built up in Blood Mothers, such as with her detective partner, Rory, and her boyfriend, Greg. The close friendship between Rory and Kate, regardless of their age gap, is one of my personal favourite parts of the book, as they help to ground each other amidst the stressful nature of detective work.
Dark Waters takes place in Ireland, and Maguire creates a very realistic environment here. I felt entrenched in this culture and loved noting the little cultural differences here and there.
My biggest problem with the book does lie in another aspect of the worldbuilding, however, which is the way Emily’s suicide video goes viral in the first place. It is laid out as an established point in the book’s opening, but I personally had some trouble believing that this video posted to a random account with no established following would go so viral in one night.
This suspension of disbelief was a bit distracting at the beginning, but ultimately I was drawn into the plot nonetheless, especially with the multiple POV’s included in the narrative. Emily’s best friends, Max and Ashling, are given a lot of character development, and specifically Ashling’s eventual storyline does a good job at hammering home the “shark infested waters” of social media, if a bit heavy-handed.
Overall, Dark Waters was a very enjoyable introduction to Maguire’s writing, operating as a fun new addition to the DS Kate Hamilton series. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the next book in this saga.
Dark Waters| By Gaye Maguire | 330 pp. | Inkubator Books | Paperback £10.99