‘Was it possible there’d been a house in this place? He thought of the old folksong ‘The May Morning Dew’ and the line about the singer’s childhood home being but a stone on a stone. Here there wasn’t even a stone on a stone, just mud, grass and bitter wind.’
– The Desire Line
[ About The Desire Line ]
Home is where the heart is but what if that home has been erased?
Discharged from a psychiatric ward after an apparent murder-suicide perpetrated by her partner Malachy, feared drowned, Helena is driven to the beautiful peninsula of Islandmagee, north of Belfast, by new friends Jer and Nora McCabe. There she finds the house she shared with Malachy has been cleared off the face of the earth . . . or so she claims.
Maverick TV producer and investigative journalist Jer wonders whether Helena is victim or villain, but tries to help for the sake of his vulnerable wife who has befriended this unsettling woman.
Amid echoes of the infamous Islandmagee witch trial, Jer and his family are drawn into a disturbing chain of events which reach their climax on an Islandmagee hillside on Halloween night.
[ My Review ]
The Desire Line by Jane Cassidy published August 1st with Poolbeg and is described as ‘a gripping Irish psychological thriller.’
Jer McCabe has lived with his wife Nora’s demons for years. Now, as she leaves the psychiatric ward of a nearby facility, she seems chirpier, more alert but she also has an unexpected favour to ask Jer. Nora has befriended Helen, another patient of the hospital, who is also being released the same day. Helen needs a lift back to the house she shared with her partner Malachy out on Islandmagee, a coastal area outside Belfast. Helen has been through a terribly traumatic experience following a suspected murder-suicide. Malachy is presumed dead, drowned without trace, after Helen was discovered by a dog walker, unconscious and left hidden under a pile of seaweed. Helen is disbelieving of this theory and finds it really difficult to trust what is being said about Malachy.
Jer agrees to give Helen a lift and sets off to Islandmagee, only to be faced with a dilemma on arrival. Helen’s home is no longer there. Convinced that Helen may have got confused following her psychiatric treatment, Jer and Nora take her home with them for the night. They make another attempt at finding the house over the next few days but to no avail. There is no house, just a few pottery remnants and memories that Helen is adamant are hers.
Jer is concerned for Nora’s health, unnerved by Helen’s odd behaviour but he is also curious. Jer is an investigative journalist and Helen’s story intrigues him enough to want to find out more. Using his contacts in the business he sets off on a crumb trail that leads him down a very twisty and convoluted path. The locals are very cagey about supplying any information, but why? Where is Helen’s house and is there any truth to her claims?
In parallel to Helen’s story, Jer is also dealing with a work issue that sees him face possible financial ruin and disaster. The pressure is landing heavily on his shoulders but Jer’s experience stands him well as he firefights one problem after another.
Jane Cassidy has written a solid tale, one that delves deep into local community with the legends and traditions that are upheld, but also crosses over with the modern desire for greed and selfishness. The Desire Line is an entertaining read that keeps the interest piqued to the end. The mysticism and witchcraft elements add a quirky vibe to the story, with a selection of characters that make you almost wonder what century the book is based in. Jer McCabe is a very likable main protagonist who, I think, could be further developed if there were to be more books following on from The Desire Line. An original and interesting debut!
[ Bio ]
A native of Mourne in Co. Down, Jane Cassidy now lives in Belfast. After graduating from Queen’s University, Belfast, with a degree in English and French, and a post-grad in Education, she spent her twenties as a professional folk singer and released 5 albums.
Performing brought her into the world of media where she freelanced as a presenter and researcher before joining the staff of BBC Northern Ireland where she produced and edited educational content.
Now retired from her role in the BBC, Jane combines performing her beloved folk music with writing.
The Desire Line is her first novel though she has had 6 radio plays broadcast by BBC Radio 4 and has dramatised the Maeve Binchy novel Firefly Summer in 6 episodes for BBC Radio 4.
X (Twitter) – @JaneCassidy2