Book review: The Girl Remains by Katherine Firkin

Saturday, May 15, 2021 Permalink

Australian author Katherine Firkin introduced readers to Detective Emmett Corban in Sticks and Stones. At the time I expected it would become part of a series and – as always – I was right. (Why doth thou doubt me?! Or something.) It doesn’t matter if you missed the first book however as, though I re-read my old review for context, only a few characters are featured here and there’s no background required.

I really liked our lead, Emmett in the first novel, here however it was the plot that interested me the most – particularly the events of twenty years earlier which set up an intriguing cold case mystery.

Book review: The Girl Remains by Katherine FirkinThe Girl Remains
by Katherine Firkin
Series: Detective Emmett Corban #2
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
on 04/05/2021
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 9781761042621
Pages: 368

For over twenty years the disappearance of fifteen-year-old Cecilia May remains a baffling cold case - until human bones are discovered on an isolated beach.

Now it’s up to Detective Emmett Corban and his team to dig up decades of trauma, and find the missing piece of an investigation that’s as complex as it is tragic.

Does the answer lie with the only suspect, a registered sex offender who confessed, then immediately provided a rock-solid alibi? Or with the two teen survivors – neither of whom can keep their story straight?

But the police aren’t the only ones hunting for the truth: someone else has arrived in the seaside town. And she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to find her own version of justice…

Emmett is again the central character and his wife Cindy again features. I commented on her presence in Sticks and Stones but decided the focus on her was warranted. Here however she annoyed me a little here as she’s freelancing as a photographer and finds herself working with journalists who are following the case her husband is leading. There’s a bit of push and pull and I wonder if Firkin’s setting up some potential marital issues as that seems certainly on the cards here.

We don’t spend much time in the present with the two women who survive the night in the woods (in 1998) and perhaps didn’t get to know them as well as I would have liked, but I very much enjoyed their stories in the past.

The novel unfolds from a few points of view and dips into the past – via memories and interviews and testimonies at the time.

There was a suspect then and his alibi has since died (literally), so he seems like an obvious target here. And I very much liked that Firkin confronts readers with our own expectations and prejudices when we learn of his past, and then again when it’s further clarified.

As well as a number of police officers from the present and the players from the past Firkin introduces a mysterious young woman. I think it’s fairly easy to predict why she’s there and though that element was interesting, I didn’t engage with her as much as I’d have liked.

I felt Emmett, his wife and DSC Lanh Nguyen (Emmett’s underling) were also a little inconsistent in their behaviour. Though perhaps that’s just human nature. We’re not as predictable – or likeable or not-likeable – as expected.

I’m interested to see where Firkin takes her characters in the next outing and who remains from those we meet here.

The Girl Remains by Katherine Firkin was published by Bantam Australia (Penguin Books) and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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