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Audrey Mac Cready

Location: Dublin

Bio

Archaeologist, librarian, genealogist, EU official…now a writer. Still digging.

Current project

Working title: ’37°N 22°E’.

Kate’s sister was murdered in Greece in 1980. The crime is unsolved. Twenty years later, she goes there to meet the police who worked on her case. The killer is not pleased.

Based on a true story.

Previous (unpublished) novel: ‘Love in the Time of Rebellion – a story of 1798.’

Writing sample

‘I’m going to Greece.’
Her sons looked at her across the dinner table. In the ensuing silence she heard the unspoken questions.
Why?
So?
And the killer: Why are you telling me this?
Fergal and Peadar were well-reared, so they didn’t say any of them out loud. Kate sighed. ‘I’ve wanted to go since nineteen eighty-one, but it always seemed so far away, in every sense. But it’s not going to come to me so I’m going to it. Mountain, Mohammed, you know.’
Fergal, the ever-reliable elder, stuck his head over the proverbial parapet.
‘When?’
‘As soon as I get the support I need from the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Gardaí.’
‘The Gardaí?’ Peadar piped up. ‘What’s it to do with them?’
‘It was the Guards who came to the house – this house – to tell my Dad that your Aunt Julia’s body had been identified. They were the first official contact. I’m going to call them to see if there has ever been a development in her case. Given what happened back then, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d caught her killer and he’s been in prison for ten years without anyone bothering to tell us.’
Another silence replete with questions. Fergal had been six months old when they’d learned that Julia was dead, after she had been missing for fourteen months. Peadar was three and a half years in the future. Neither of her boys had known their aunt and she existed only as a name and a tale they’d heard bits of as they grew. Kate didn’t expect them to recollect all the details. It wasn’t seared into their memories as it was into hers. She remembered it all, in Technicolour. Which made it all the stranger that a person who had been so close to her, living, breathing, sharing a double bed, someone to whom she told stories in the dark, could be completely unknown to her own flesh and blood. Fergal and Peadar had no sense of loss about Julia: she was a kind of fictional character.
‘What can Foreign Affairs do to help?’ Fergal, ever practical, asked.
‘I want a meeting with them to discuss official contacts with the Greek authorities. I want to meet the police who handled her case and I want to see where her body was found.’
‘Jesus, Ma. What good will that do?’ They both stared at her.
‘It’ll make it real. Not just a place on a map.’ The Evrota river, near Sparti in the Peloponnese. That’s what the newspapers had said. The newspapers the Garda had warned her father not to read, that evening when he’d brought the news to the house. Her father had driven the short distance to where Kate and her husband, Tony, lived with six-month-old Fergal. When he walked into her living room, she saw his grim face.
‘It’s about Julia,’ he had said. She’d walked over and put her arms around his neck and spoke into his ear.
’Tell me.’
‘They’ve found her body.’
How, what, where, when. She’d burbled out the questions.
‘I don’t know,’ was all he could tell her. ‘They’re waiting for a big fax to come through from Athens – it’ll have all the details. He told me not to read the newspapers for the next week. We’ll get the official information in the fax.’
Ah, yes, the fax. The famous fax which never reached Coolock Garda Station. Her parents phoned every day for – ages. No, they hadn’t received it.
Kate, Tony and baby Fergal had moved in with her parents for the next fortnight, waiting for the fax. She bought all the newspapers that week. The reports misspelled Julia’s name, garbled the details. Even the British papers picked up on the story, one of them describing Julia as ‘a pretty hitchhiker’. A pretty hitchhiker! How the hell did that newspaper know if she hitchhiked? Victim-blaming subplot. It became clear from the newspapers that Julia hadn’t died in a car crash, or from drowning or a drug overdose. Her body had been found at the edge of the Evrota river, near Sparti in the Peloponnese.
Kate had been on a bus in town, driving along beside another river, the Liffey, when she saw the small piece in The Irish Times. Words burned forever into her brain. ‘Her throat had been cut.’ She got off at the next stop, not her destination, and clung to the river wall to gulp down the tears and wonder, bewildered, what to do next.

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