Published 21 January 2021
EXCERPT: I was ten years old when I found out that monsters are real and they walk among us. I can pinpoint the exact day that everything changed, when the world I’d found to be fun and innocent and good turned into something dark and frightening.
Looking back, I pity my mother having to find the words to tell my brothers and me what had happened. I pitied all the mothers and fathers who were forced to have that same conversation with their children at the dinner table that evening.
There’d be no playing out in the street any more. There’d be no nipping in and out of neighbours’ houses, or knocking on doors looking for a glass of water when we were parched from playing Tig or Red Rover, or riding our bicycles all over the estate in and out of the dark alleyways.
We were never to go out on our own. Nor walk back from school on our own. Even though it would still be light then. We were absolutely not allowed to take the shortcut through the overgrown fields at the back of the school, either.
And we were never, ever, ever to go into anyone’s house on our own. No matter how well we knew them. No matter how many times we’d been there before.
Because Kelly Doherty had been found and she was dead.
ABOUT ‘ASK NO QUESTIONS’: Twenty-five years ago, on Halloween night, eight-year-old Kelly Doherty went missing while out trick or treating with friends.
Her body was found three days later, floating face down, on the banks of the Creggan Reservoir by two of her young classmates.
It was a crime that rocked Derry to the core. Journalist Ingrid Devlin is investigating – but someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. As she digs further, Ingrid starts to realise that the Doherty family are not as they seem. But will she expose what really happened that night before it’s too late?
MY THOUGHTS: This is the second excellent book that I have read by this author, the first being Her Name Was Rose.
Ask No Questions is very aptly titled. I have never known anyone who was murdered, but I would imagine that if I had, it would never leave me. I would always, like Ingrid, be wondering if there was something I could have done to prevent it. And like Ingrid, if I had the chance to make sure that person was not forgotten, I would take it. However, I doubt that I would be as single-minded or as hard-nosed about it as Ingrid, especially once the threats started. But Ingrid is a person who doesn’t mind rocking the boat to see what the waves will dislodge.
Claire Allen had me hooked from the beginning. She has skillfully built up an air of mystery and menace, and doubt as to the guilt of Jamesy Harte, who was convicted of Kelly Doherty’s murder. Told over the periods of 1994 and 2019 by Ingrid, the journalist writing the twenty-five year anniversary piece on Kelly’s murder, and Declan, one of the Heaney twins who discovered Kelly’s body, the storyline is dark and gritty, the twists plausible and unpredictable, the characters engaging and realistic, if not always likeable.
I often found myself holding my breath – in anticipation, in dread – as I suspected almost everyone of killing Kelly.
Ask No Questions is an engaging and emotional read that occasionally unnerved me. And while I may have had a solid suspicion as to the identity of the killer, I had no idea of the how and why. That was a climactic revelation that had me shedding a few tears, and not for the first time during this read.
‘We all get lonely. Even those of us in big houses with partners and children.’
THE AUTHOR: Claire Allan is a Northern Irish author who lives in Derry~Londonderry with her husband, two children, two cats and a very spoiled puppy.
She worked as a staff reporter for the Derry Journal for 17 years, covering a wide array of stories from court sessions, to the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday, health and education and human interest features.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Ask No Questions by Claire Allen for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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