Anne Cunningham at work reviewing this week's books.

This week - thrillers about a missing child and about a string of murders in Cork

This week there’s a book about personal connectivity; how vital it is and how to improve it. There are two thrillers, one about a missing child and another about a string of murders in Cork, and there’s a novel about a writer who’s suffering an acute case of writer’s block!

The Power of Connection, Dr Harry Barry, Orion, €15.99

In this age of global connectivity where we can talk to someone on the other side of the world in an instant, it’s ironic that we’re actually losing our real connection with other human beings. Technology has played its part (why call someone if you can text them?) and lockdowns have really helped to add nails to this particular coffin, but the fact is that we’re losing our social skills. And in losing them, we’re losing a significant part of ourselves. Dr Harry Barry has a lot of questions, as well as answers and solutions, in this book but firstly he asks the reader to consider how much human contact they actually engage in, and how they are using this human contact as a fully-formed human being.

He figures most of us are suffering from a dearth of human connection (and it seems he’s right) and that we really need to upskill ourselves in our interpersonal communications. Remote working, of course, doesn’t help the situation, even though it is on the increase. And smartphones don’t help. We use our fingers much more than our voices. We’re not listening and we’re not engaging and Dr Barry says this is hugely affecting our mental health. It’s an interesting, and most likely, a vital, read.

In the Dark, Claire Allan, Avon, €16.99

Nora Logue lost her daughter Daisy in the woods seven years ago. So traumatic was the incident, Nora doesn’t remember it. She’s no idea how she came to lose little Daisy. She emerged from the woods in a terrible state without her daughter and can’t recall what happened. Social media, in the years since, has become judge, jury and executioner, and most people believe Nora was involved in her the disappearance of her child. And Claire Allan at times provokes the reader into thinking that might have been the case. Nora is remarried by now and has rebuilt her life as much as possible. She’s had another child since, a son called Luca, and her husband is a sympathetic and supportive partner. Or so it seems.

Seven years on, a filmmaker contacts Nora, as she’s making a TV documentary about the disappearance of the child. Nora agrees to talk to her. But as word gets out about that, there’s a resurgence of the online hate campaign and it is relentless. It’s turning dangerous and there’s also a threat posed to little Luca. Nora was hoping the documentary would help shed some new light on what happened to her daughter, but now she’s not so sure. And since she remembers nothing, maybe the public are right? Maybe she did do something to terrible to her daughter? Another tense page-turner from Claire Allan.

Queen Bee, Ciara Geraghty, Harper Collins, €14.99

One might be tempted to see the menopause years as those where there’s more room in the house since it’s an empty nest, there’s a bit more peace and there’s finally time to pursue one’s own interests. Not so for Agatha Doyle. She’s a writer, she’s got an appalling dose of writer’s block and worst of all she’s got a full house. One of her two sons has returned from abroad and is setting up a vegetable garden, complete with beehives, in her back yard. The other son is spending a lot of time in bed nursing a broken heart. Her husband is as busy as ever running his restaurant and now she has her father living with her too. And her father’s girlfriend’s dog! (It’s complicated.)

Agatha finds herself speaking at a book festival and semi-accidentally lets rip on the plight of female authors but also, more significantly, on the subject of the menopause, with all of the challenges it brings. Social media being what it is, her rant finds itself online in jig time and suddenly Agatha is the Menopause Queen, being approached by all and sundry for articles, interviews, the works. But all she wants to do is get back to her quiet writing life. Besides being very accurate, this story is infused with Geraghty’s trademark wry sense of humour and it’s a most enjoyable read.

Twisted Truth, Amy Cronin, Poolbeg Crimson, €16.99

This is the second novel in a trilogy but even if you haven’t read the first, there’s enough of a backstory here to keep you pinned to the page. Anna Clarke is a clerical worker in a garda station and as such shouldn’t be getting involved directly in crime cases. But in Cronin’s first novel, Blinding Lies, we saw that by helping out an old friend, Anna unwittingly had immersed herself in a part of the underworld of Cork that one wouldn’t normally see.

There’s a drugs lord who’s out for revenge for a start, and it’s only a matter of time before he finds Anna. But there’s also a serial killer on the loose, and the body count is mounting. DS William Ryan is baffled. He can’t seem to find motives for the murders but it turns out they’re all connected in one creepy way – they’re all being filmed.

This novel starts off tense and the tension builds and builds. With just her second novel, Amy Cronin has established herself as a crime writer to watch.


On Friday March 10, the Museum of Literature Ireland will open its Brendan Behan exhibition to mark the centenary of his death. Titled ‘The Holy Hour: A Requiem for Brendan Behan’, it’s been created by Patrick McCabe (of The Butcher Boy fame) and promises a more nuanced depiction of Behan, the writer and the man. Full details on

The Francophonie Festival is taking place throughout the month of March, showcasing French sport, music, film, literature, talks and debates. Organised by the French Embassy with the Department of Foreign Affairs, full details of the programme can be found on

The Ennis Book Club Festival is on March 3-5 and there’s a huge line-up of Irish authors set to make an appearance. See for full details.