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Darkest Truth by Catherine Kirwan

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
Posted in | .

He will do anything to protect his secrets.
She will stop at nothing to expose the truth.
Because these are powerful people she is trying to expose.
And they’re willing to do anything to keep the truth hidden…….

Finola ‘Finn’ Fitzpatrick is a Cork solicitor, working and living in the city. She takes on the less salubrious cases that the other partners do not wish to dirty their hands with. But Finn enjoys these alternative cases and the freedom they allow her on a daily basis. ‘I was adaptable and discreet, useful for doing the messy but necessary work the other solicitors didn’t want to do.’ One extremely wet evening, as Finn locks up the office, she is approached by a man, one Sean Carney, in an obvious distraught state, looking for help. His daughter, Deirdre, committed suicide some time back and he has never truly accepted it as the world would like him to.

Deirdre had been a ‘normal’ teenager, but at fifteen years old there was a very dramatic change in her personality. Deirdre was a film enthusiast and following a time volunteering with the Cork Film Festival, a life-changing event resulted in a noticeable decline in Deirdre’s mental health. Sean and his wife Ann need closure and Finn, for reasons that eventually become apparent, is their last hope in bringing justice and in finally exposing the man they now hold responsible for Deirdre’s death. He is a renowned movie director, a beloved of the Hollywood scene, a seemingly untouchable ‘teflon’ character who has escaped scrutiny……until now. Finn makes a decision to assist the Carneys as there is something about Deirdre’s death that pulls her in….but Finn is unaware of the pandora’s box she is opening.

Darkest Truth, for me, is a novel of two parts. The initial stages of the book create the scene and introduce us to the players involved, with one very striking player, Cork City. I am a Cork native, born and bred, and I always approach books featuring Cork with a little trepidation, as my senses are heightened to spotting any mistakes etc. Catherine Kirwan felt very strongly that the city of Cork was very important to her storyline and she most definitely brings the city alive throughout the narrative.

‘Crossing Patrick Street, I cut down Marlboro Street as far as Liam Russell’s bookshop and circled back on to Princes Street. I thought about the mix of optimism and bravery and foolishness that had led people to settle and build in this damp place. I thought about how, every so often, the water rose fast from the marsh underneath the streets and, just as fast, drained away leaving ruin in its wake….. I swung past the grand cast-iron gates, and into the English Market, busy already, though it was not yet ten, with the usual weekend foodie crowd stocking up on provisions for their Saturday night dinner parties. Taking a left at the fountain, I passed the wooden steps to the Farmgate restaurant on the balcony, went through the arch, and got an Americano with milk from Mary Rose.’

This description is so authentic, every street, each location brought me right into the story as I walked the city with Finn. For those not familiar with Cork, can I just say that Catherine Kirwan has put incredible detail into the book, bringing the setting to life.

The second part of the book is where Finn begins to make some very frightening discoveries and realises the extent of this web of lies she has become trapped in. There is a cloak of secrecy protecting a person, protecting an industry. Her livelihood, her reputation, even her life are all on the line, as Finn refuses to climb down, refuses to stop her search for the truth. There is a definite pick-up in the pace of the story as the pieces of the jigsaw come together and the mystery behind Deirdre’s suicide is slowly unveiled.

Darkest Truth is a very topical book focusing in on the current Me Too movement, mental health, grooming and abuse. Catherine Kirwan handles all these areas with great sensitivity, while also bringing us a novel that will have you eager to turn the pages, as you race to the finish.

Darkest Truth is a very entertaining, confident and impressive debut with a very convincing main protagonist. This is Finn Fitzpatrick’s first appearance and I have no doubt that we will be seeing plenty more of her in the future. It’s really wonderful to see Cork play such an important role in Catherine Kirwan’s writing, capturing the city in a very unique fashion.

(c) Swirl and Thread

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