CARLINE Darcy is a bona fide genius – a once-in-a-generation undergraduate of exceptional aptitude, poised to complete her degree at twice the usual pace and in her final year already fine-tuning the text of a PhD thesis.
Her ability is hardly surprising, though, given her family background: as the granddaughter and assumed heir of Irish billionaire therapeutic products baron John Darcy she has enormous footsteps in which to follow, both academically and within the world of business.
The discovery of the young woman’s corpse, therefore, shocks not only the medical researcher who finds it lying on a public road late one night, Detective Cormac Reilly’s girlfriend Dr Emma Sweeney, but the National University of Ireland’s entire combined student and faculty body in Galway.
Who could have wanted this phenomenal talent dead – and in exceptionally gory circumstances, too?
Within hours, however, the preliminary identification is reversed, leaving police slightly embarrassed by their haste in reaching an incorrect conclusion.
Darcy, it seems, is alive and well – so who, then, is the victim, killed while carrying Darcy’s laboratory access card and wearing a designer cardigan worth many times more than the average 20-something can afford? The physical similarities between the girls are uncanny.
With Reilly and Sweeney still recovering from the after-effects of their involvement in a police investigation a year earlier, being drawn into a second murder case so unexpectedly unsettles both. The trauma is intensified when Reilly’s colleagues begin to circulate shadowy rumours of serious wrongdoing by the couple, threatening their individual careers and placing enormous strain on their relationship.
In the midst of this upheaval, official attempts to delve deeper are leading nowhere.
Reilly is frustrated, Sweeny is spooked and the police force hierarchy is being deliberately misdirected by the senior Darcy. The odds of unravelling the truth behind this crime seem slim.