I’m thrilled to now be able to introduce my second guest for today for Thursday Themes. Margaret Kirk is here to talk about the themes of her latest novel.
Over to you, Margaret…
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog to talk about the themes of my latest novel.
What Lies Buried is the second book in the DI Lukas Mahler police procedural series. Set in my home town of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, it opens with the discovery of human remains on a construction site for a new housing estate.
With a bullet hole through the skull, it’s clear the victim met a violent end; but with Mahler’s team in a desperate race against time to find an abducted child, investigating a seventy year-old murder will have to wait. At least, that’s what Mahler thinks at first …
As a Highland Scot, families and their history are a constant source of fascination to me. I’m intrigued by how much our pasts influence the people we become, and the choices we make. In both Shadow Man (book 1) and What Lies Buried, my characters have to come to terms with harrowing events in their pasts; how much of who we are lies just below the surface of our conscious minds? And how much can we ever truly escape the things that we keep buried there? What happens when we can’t?
As someone who’s moved around a lot, both in the UK and abroad, exploring the themes of home and homecoming has always appealed to me. How does our notion of home change, depending on how much or how little we move away? Does returning to our parents’ house always count as coming home? What about moving back to your home country after a long absence? I’m endlessly fascinated by these questions.
My female main character, Anna Murray, is a historian. This allows me to indulge one of my personal passions as I weave episodes and themes from Highland history into the narrative; and the tragic story of the last woman to be executed for witchcraft in Scotland allows me to explore the strength of women and their traditional roles in detective fiction in … well, let’s just say I look at it in unexpected ways in this book.
Finally, because What Lies Buried takes a look into some very dark places in the human soul, it’s important to say that another theme, not just for this book but for the whole series, is the theme of human warmth, and human kindness. Without those things to reach for, Lukas and his team would find it impossible to do their jobs. Genuine evil can and does leave its mark; but when Lukas faces its most disturbing manifestation in the climax to this book, he’s able to draw strength from a most unexpected source.
A graduate of Glasgow University, Margaret Kirk writes ‘Highland Noir’ Scottish crime fiction.
Her debut novel, Shadow Man, won the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition in 2016. Described as ‘a harrowing and horrific game of consequences’ by Val McDermid, it was published in 2017. Book 2 in the DI Lukas Mahler series, What Lies Buried, was published by Orion in June 2019.
‘Still Life’, a prize-winning entry in the Bloody Scotland Short Story competition, was broadcast on Radio 4 in February 2016 as part of their ‘Scottish Shorts’ series for new and emerging writers.
Her award-winning short story, ‘The Seal Singers’, was published in the German anthology, ‘Urlaubsgeschichte’ in 2016 by DTV, and in Mutterherz 2018.
Blurb for What Lies Buried
A missing child. A seventy year-old murder. And a killer who’s still on the loose.
10 year-old Erin is missing; taken in broad daylight during a friend’s birthday party. With no witnesses and no leads, DI Lukas Mahler races against time to find her. But is it already too late for Erin – and will her abductor stop at one stolen child?
And the discovery of human remains on a construction site near Inverness confronts Mahler’s team with a cold case from the 1940s. Was Aeneas Grant’s murder linked to a nearby POW camp, or is there an even darker story to be uncovered?
With his team stretched to the limit, Mahler’s hunt for Erin’s abductor takes him from Inverness to the Lake District. And decades-old family secrets link both cases in a shocking final twist.
What Lies Buried is available from: