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Ghosts of the Missing


Ghosts of the Missing

GHOSTS OF THE MISSING is set in the fictional town of Culleton, New York, which is located about two hours outside of New York City. With most of the action taking place in the Hudson Valley, Kathleen Donohue’s second novel has the ideal setting for a mystery that is fueled by the ancient lore of the region and just a hint of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. Each chapter is presented from the viewpoint of a different character while also jumping in time from the 1800s through 2010.

The Prologue introduces us to Cassius Moye of Moye House, who experiences a ghostly sighting in the woods while singing Irish songs. Cassius learned all of this from the various young Irish women who have come to work at Moye House each year. They hang bells in the branches of the trees in a ritual meant to carry on a prayer. To this day, it is said that the chiming of a bell can still be heard in those woods at night, as well as the apparition of a woman who haunts there.

"GHOSTS OF THE MISSING is the sort of novel that slowly sucks you in until you find yourself reading more and more and not able to stop until you reach the end."

In 2010, we meet Adair, who is sitting on a bench in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, and talking to a co-worker who admires her artwork and sketching skills. Adair may be living by herself in a Brooklyn apartment, but it was her time spent at Moye House that defines her and drives the narrative of this haunting novel. We learn much about Adair as the story moves forward. An above-average artist, she is HIV-positive and continues to take medication to regulate her illness. She was best friends with Rowan Kinnane, a young Irish girl who disappeared without a trace in 1985, on the day that Culleton was celebrating Quicken Day.

Just as the title of the novel speaks of the missing, everything that happens at Moye House and the Culleton region seems tied to a history of loss. This is represented in the stories passed down through the centuries, as well as the ghostly lore that the superstitious still abide by. Moye House also becomes a home for various artists who are looking to work on their craft. Visitors are taken in by the legacy that has been passed down through the family members who are still there.

It was Cassius who wrote a book of short stories that became infamous in the area, The Lost Girl and Other Stories. Was it purely irony that bound the title of the Lost Girl to Rowan’s disappearance more than a century later? Questions like this still haunt Moye House. Perhaps that is why things begin to get creepy again when a writer named Ciaran Riordan arrives there, especially when we discover his personal connection to Rowan.

GHOSTS OF THE MISSING is the sort of novel that slowly sucks you in until you find yourself reading more and more and not able to stop until you reach the end. It's no surprise that Kathleen Donohoe serves on the board of Irish American Writers & Artists because she has a masterful way with words. Early on in the book, she references a proverb that stuck with me throughout the story: “if you cannot sleep, it means you are lost in someone else's dream.” I often felt like that as the narrative jumped back and forth, infused with Irish folklore and colorful characters, right up to the finish.

But is it possible that one of these characters was responsible for Rowan’s abduction, or worse? This is a mystery that readers will just have to find out for themselves.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on February 21, 2020

Ghosts of the Missing
by Kathleen Donohoe

  • Publication Date: February 11, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • ISBN-10: 0544557174
  • ISBN-13: 9780544557178