The Empty Room

""This is a terrifically important novel and deserves to be an instant classic of the crime genre." "


Pandora (Dora) Condron wakes one morning to discover her 17-year-old daughter Ellie has not come home from a party.

The day Ellie disappears, Dora is alone as her husband, Eamon, has already left for the day in his job as a long-distance lorry driver. So Dora does the usual things: rings around Ellie's friends … but no one knows where she is. Her panic growing, Dora tries the local hospitals and art college where Ellis is a student – but then the police arrive on her doorstep with the news her daughter's handbag has been discovered dumped in a layby.

So begins Dora's ordeal of waiting and not knowing what has become of her daughter. Eamon's lack of empathy and concern, Dora realises, is indicative of the state of their marriage, and left on her own, Dora begins to reassess everything she thought she knew about her family and her life. Increasingly isolated and disillusioned with the police investigation, Dora feels her grip on reality slipping as she takes it upon herself to find her daughter – even if it means tearing apart everything and everybody she has ever loved and taking justice into her own hands.

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Told in the first person from the point of view of Dora Condron, mother of a missing teenager, 'The Empty Room' is a powerful, raw and emotional psychological thriller with a frightening degree of reality. This could almost be a true-crime book written by the mother of a missing child as she takes us through the police investigative process and the fallout as her life changes forever. Brian McGilloway is a wonderful writer and has created a thriller that is both entertaining yet shockingly real and harrowing. At times, this reader felt he was intruding on real grief, as the pain is so beautiful described. I had to keep telling myself that this is a novel and pure fiction, but at the same time, knowing this is exactly what parents are going through the world over who have a missing child. The novel, in three parts, takes us on a journey in the most important aspects of a missing person case – the first three days. We then jump to three months later, followed by three years later. Dora's characterisation and her own personal journey is witnessed in emotional technicolour as we watch her descend into a kind of madness, and the lengths she will go to in order to discover the truth of what happened to her only child are heart-breaking to read. The slowness of the police investigation, the way detectives have their hands tied by procedure and budgets, is all painfully depicted. This is a terrifically important novel and deserves to be an instant classic of the crime genre.

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