The Altar Girls
published November 9, 2023
About the book
When Detective Lottie Parker receives news that a child’s body has been found in the frozen grounds of the cathedral, a shiver runs down her spine. She’s terrified it will be eight-year-old Willow Devine, reported missing that morning.
But when she arrives at the cathedral, holding a photo of Willow with her blonde ponytail and gap-toothed smile, she gets a terrible shock. The body is a young girl, wrapped in a white shroud, a rosary clutched in her frozen fingers. But her hair is dark, not fair. This girl isn’t Willow but another eight-year-old, Naomi.
Desperate to find a connection between the two girls and to find Willow before it is too late, Lottie speaks to the girls’ families and discovers that both girls were altar servers at the cathedral. The charismatic priest Father Maguire has a watertight alibi for the time the girls went missing, but Lottie suspects the confused old lady traumatised by the discovery of Naomi’s body is hiding something…
A day later, Willow’s little body is found wrapped in a white robe in the snowy grounds of a church across town. Lottie is devastated, convinced now that she can’t trust anyone, least of all the girls’ parents. Why did Willow’s mother claim the girls didn’t know each other? And why are there no photos of Naomi in her mother’s shabby house?
But when a little boy from the choir goes missing too, Lottie realises she must spread her net wider. Can she stop this twisted killer before another precious life is stolen?
A completely compelling page-turner from bestselling author Patricia Gibney. If you like Rachel Caine, Kendra Elliott and Robert Dugoni, The Altar Girls will have you hooked.
I’m not sure if it just the author’s writing style or her Irish background, but her books read a little more serious than the other police procedural series I read. And I like it. I never dip into a moment where I might confuse the background with a different series. Her series stands out.
In this latest installment, as Lottie starts to investigate a missing girl, she instead finds a different girl murdered. This leads to a potential tie into the church at Christmas time to boot.
This one crept a little close to home for me as Lottie continues to deal with her mother’s dementia. I can relate to the struggle. And as usual in the series, Lottie’s life and work both play a part as in addition to her mother, Lottie is dealing with Boyd and his missing daughter.
The plot moves along at a steady pace and there are multiple suspects in the case. Not all of them a likable sort. As Lottie and her team work tirelessly to solve it, I appreciated the complexity of the case. And the pressure to make sure no other children are harmed.
While this is book 13 in the series, it can easliy be a stand alone, but I recommend that all the books in the series are worth a read.
Patricia is the million-copy bestselling author of the DI Lottie Parker series. She yearned to be a writer after reading Enid Blyton and Carolyn Keene and even wanted to be Nancy Drew when she grew up. She has now grown up (she thinks) but the closest she’s come to Nancy Drew is writing crime!
In 2009, after her husband died, she retired from her job and started writing seriously. Fascinated by people and their quirky characteristics, she always carries a notebook to scribble down observations.
Patricia also loves to paint in watercolour and lives in the Irish midlands with her children.