I knew in advance that this would be a terrific read. I have loved her other books (LONDON EYE MYSTERY, A SWIFT PURE CRY) and hate that we will not see more from this talented author whose untimely death left us with a small but powerful body of work. BOG CHILD (David Fickling Books/RH, 2008) is set in Ireland in the tempestuous times of the 1980s. With the warring factions as a backdrop, readers are introduced to Fergus, a young man off to cut some peat with his Uncle Tally. It is there in the bog that Fergus discovers the body of what he thinks is a child. Archaeologists come to investigate the find, a child Fergus names Mel after the young girl haunting his dreams. Set into motion by this startling find is a novel of romance, war, redemption, betrayal, and family. Fergus is drawn into running what he thinks might be Semtex packets past border patrols in order to perhaps be able to spare his brother who has joined the hunger strike in prison. Fergus knows what he is doing is wrong; he not only bears no ill will toward the "others", he understands that in this type of conflict the enemy can be someone far removed from the military. How can it be right to target areas where innocent civilians might be? This is just one of the troubling questions with which Fergus must wrestle.
Dowd gives no easy answers to these and other questions. Perhaps that is where the greatest strength of this book lies. Readers will have to ponder the same questions as Fergus. Given some of the headlines from today's conflicts, these are essential questions.