Cover Image: Where They Lie

Where They Lie

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Member Reviews

Nicoletta Sarto, is, in 1968, among the few women journalists in Dublin. This is a Dublin my older relatives would recognise, a smaller city, in which transport options are few and social circles are restricted. WHERE THEY LIE is set between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Nicoletta is a copy-taker and journalist, working the boring night shift at the Sentinel on Burgh Quay. This fictional newspaper resembles the papers of the day, in which court cases reported could see someone sent to hang for murder.

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It is the 60s in Dublin, 1968 to be exact. Nicoletta Sarto is a junior reporter for the Irish Senitel, keen, ambitious, and wants to try and make it, in what is arguably a ‘man's world’. Nicoletta gets a break when the bones of Julia Bridges are discovered in a garden on the outskirts of Dublin. Working on the Christmas shift, Nicoletta picks up the 25-year-old case, and gets to investigating who Julie Bridges was and what happened when she first disappeared.

Julie was last seen entering the house of Gloria Fitzpatrick, who was later put on trial (and convicted) for the murder of another woman, whose abortion she facilitated. It was never proven that Gloria was involved in Julia’s death, and Julia’s body was never found - until now. Police seem to be keen to draw a line under Julia’s death, and chalk it up to Gloria. But Nicoletta is a good reporter, and being a woman has its advantages. She is good at her job, people open up to her, and she gets drawn into a story she never could have imagined.

While trying to fight for her place on the paper reporting team, she is delving deeper into the case, unearthing secrets people thought long buried, and that they want to keep buried. Some of the secrets she uncovers will change how she looks at her life forever. How she continues on this path will change how her life progresses. How far will she go for her job, a career, and everything she thinks she wants in life?

This book is beautifully written, really immersing you in the Dublin of the past. If you have any familiarity with Dublin you will see the places before your eyes are they are being described, but transported back into the 60’s, how they used to be. The descriptive writing is fantastic. The characters created in this story are also very real, raw and full of emotion.

Nicoletta’s struggle to make it in a man’s world, where women were still expected to be at home with the kids, and ambition is seen as a dirty thing in a woman is painful to see, we can emphasise with her experience and want to reassure her that things will get better. Her pain, anguish and loneliness jump off the page, create an atmosphere of struggle and despair, and underscore the importance that solving this case has to Nicoletta. Watching her relationships with her lover, her parents and her colleagues unfold is wonderful, as she navigates growing into herself and her confidence to be unapologetically the woman she wants to be, in a time that does not yet recognise or reward this.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book, it not being something typical I would pick up. Something drew me to it, and I am so glad I read it. The story was painful but beautiful, original, with fantastic pacing and the twists excellently crafted. Absolutely recommend this as a read, and I look forward to more from this author!

*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

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I struggled with this book initially but once I had read a third of it I was absorbed. Told in two timelines - 1943 death of Julia Bridges and 1968 when her bones are found. The story is investigated by novice journalist, Nicoletta Sarto. As she investigates she wants to understand more about the police’s certainty that Gloria Fitzpatrick is to blame for her death. She becomes embroiled in the workings of the illegal abortion industry and finds out secrets from her own past.

Nicoleta is trying to make a name for herself in the male dominated newspaper industry in Ireland and is dealing with a number of personal issues at the same time.

This novel deals with a number of difficult issues but in a proportionate manner. You empathise with Nicoletta as she grapples with her past story and her determination to do justice to Gloria.

An interesting debut - I will be interested to read more from this author.

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Where They Lie is a solid debut which surprises you and makes you think. Claire Coughlan is an author that makes you think and her work is exciting and new and I cannot wait to read more from her.

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1960s Dublin. Very atmospheric. Not sure about the main character Nicoletta whether I liked her or not but a very different time. A bit slow going for me personally. Intriguing story. Would give the author another try. Can imagine it being a sort of "Shetland Mark 2"

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✨Slow paced. Thriller . Sets in two scenarios . Abortion ⚠️

✨Julia is missing. It was a big scandal as she was an actress. The last sighting of her is entering a house which Gloria owns.
Up until they went to Dublin, a reporter was eager on what happen to the Irish actress .

✨this story has a lot of twist but yet again it’s predictable. Has a tiny bit of romance but not as visible.

✨overall , it’s a good read for a debut.

✨Claire, Thankyou and it was a pleasure and would love to read more .

✨Thankyou #netgalley for the opportunity to read this arc for a honest review.


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An atmospheric mystery set in 1960s Dublin. The evocative period detail is well written and researched.

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“Dublin’s a small place. No one is let have secrets” and wow how Nicoletta certainly learns this lesson.
It's Christmas time in 1960s Dublin and Nicoletta is working as a reporter in the Sentinel. When a body is found in a garden she has no idea just how close to home it is and how over the course of a few days her life will change utterly.
An excellent unusual plot that slowly unravels itself in the most unexpected way.

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It's Christmas Eve, 1968 in Dublin, and Nicoletta Sarto has been calling local police stations to see if there is any news, anywhere at all, when she receives a call to say that human remains have been found, suspected to be those of a woman who went missing 25 years ago.

As Nicoletta starts to investigate the story, she quickly gets entangled in a way that she wasn't expecting.

This is a really atmospheric book, and although it kind of seems like a simple thriller/mystery at first, it's actually closer to literary fiction. The story addresses the lack of choice women had not all that long ago when it came to their bodily autonomy and involves some pretty heavy subjects.

I did enjoy this, but I do think maybe it turned out to be a little convoluted. There were quite a lot of characters and occassionally I struggled to keep track of them all. The writing's atmospheric and I think has a lot of potential, so I'll definitely be reading Claire Coughlan's next book.

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In Dublin, 1939, Gloria Fitzpatrick lost her midwifery licence; in 1943 Julia Bridges disappeared and Gloria was suspected; in 1968 Julia’s body was found in a suburban garden, but Gloria had died in 1956. Nicoletta Sarto (27), a trainee journalist is given the task of reporting on the new discovery and the old cases for her paper. A promotion is dangled if she does well, so she sets off with vigour. However, while following the clues and interviewing the relevant people, Garda officers, family members, friends, workmates, she stumbles on a tortuous interaction of miscarriages, abortions, forging of birth registers, theatrical links, philandering, and probable manipulation or ignoring of evidence by a Garda officer. And it all starts to get a bit personal.
The structure of the story is fairly standard, essentially a maverick investigator in a police procedural except that the main investigator is a journalist. I have given a short and broad precis because Nicoletta’s history is so intertwined that further details would be spoilers. Ireland’s history with regard to what we would now describe as “Women’s Rights” is pertinent but not overplayed, although I feel that the author wanted to make a point of it. As far as the procedural element is concerned, this is a good example. However, there are places where the plot is a bit loose, as if the author intended a different story but became trapped in this one. The Barney sub-plot, for example, doesn’t seem to have much rationale. There are some twists in the plot but nothing very surprising comes of them. However, it’s quite an enjoyable read overall and many readers will love it.
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publishers and the author for providing me with a draft proof copy for the purpose of this review.

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This was an above average read.
Bit an unusual story due to the topic, with a few basic red herrings and twists along the way.
‘Gloria’ added nothing of value, if anything mad it a bit confusing.

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Where They Lie by Claire Coughlan

I received an advance review copy for free thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster UK and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


Some stories demand to be told. They keep coming back, echoing down through the decades, until they find a teller . . .

Dublin, 1943. Actress Julia Bridges disappears. She was last seen entering the house of Gloria Fitzpatrick, who is later put on trial for the murder of a woman whose abortion she facilitated. But it’s never proved that Gloria had a hand in Julia’s death—and Julia’s body has never been found. Gloria, however, is sentenced to life in an institution for the criminally insane, where she’s found dead a few years later from an apparent suicide, and the truth of what happened to Julia Bridges dies with her.

Until . . .

Dublin, 1968. Nicoletta Sarto is an ambitious junior reporter for the Irish Sentinel when the bones of Julia Bridges are discovered in the garden of a house on the outskirts of the city. Drawn into investigating the 25-year-old mystery of Julia’s disappearance and her link to the notorious Gloria Fitzpatrick, Nicoletta becomes immersed in the tangled underworld of the illegal abortion industry, stirring up long-buried secrets from her own past.

My Opinion

The cover gives nothing about this book away. This was a book that I have had sat on my shelf for months, but sadly other books have just always appealed more. Finally I have gotten around to read it and I have to say that it was a surprise. For me, this was a relatively quick read and it definitely took me on a journey. There are some heavy topics used as themes throughout this book but I felt that they were all handled delicately.

There is a lot going on in this book as Nicoletta tries to make a name for herself in a male dominated industry. From the beginning it is clear that there is information missing from the plot, but do not let this spoil your enjoyment.

Rating 4/5

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An enjoyable murder mystery with a slightly predictable ending. I enjoyed it overall but got lost a few times.

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I chose to read Where They Lie because it had a historical slant and a touch of 'woman in a man's world vibe.

I'm so glad I did, it was a fresh and one of my favourite reads of recent times. We meet the brilliant junior reporter Nicoletta Sarto trying hard to find a story and clearly having tales of her own just out of view which are as interesting as the main plot.

Nicoletta is covering the discovery of a body, believed to be that of Julia Bridges who had disappeared 205 years previously. Where she was found and what she was found with cause the perceived wisdom of what happened to the actress to be examined more carefully.

This atmospheric novel pulled me into the storyline, my heart in my mouth knowing how immensely difficult some of the issues that are covered must have been for women at this time (both 1943 and 1968) I was especially grateful that the author left her readers space to absorb and reflect.

Whilst this is an intense read, was also deeply satisfying. I can't wait to see what comes next for this debut author.

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Meet Nicoletta Sarto, a young journalist in 1960s Dublin. In the hope of landing a much prized ‘Women’s Editor’ role at The Sentinel, she willingly gives up her Christmas break to doggedly chase the story of a longtime missing, assumed dead, actress, whose body is just discovered decades after she disappeared.

The Gardai immediately jump to the conclusion that the dead actress died at the hands of Gloria Fitzpatrick (also long dead) after procuring an illegally induced miscarriage.

As she begins to follow the few leads she has around a dank, misty Dublin on routes I could envisage her taking in my head, Nicoletta soon discovers a complex web of lies woven through a theatrical backdrop of high society flings, maternity nursing homes, unmarried mothers, unwanted pregnancies and more.

Not only does she have to prove her worth in a highly patriarchal society, but she also has complicated relationship issues of her own to contend with, and her story is getting uncomfortably close to home.

I thoroughly enjoyed this utterly binge-worthy, dark and atmospheric read. Our protagonist, Nicoletta, is intricately drawn and easy to root for. Still, the story, while suspenseful and full of twists and turns, was just a bit too reliant on coincidence to make some neatly tied connections.

I can see Nicoletta’s investigative journalism making a cracking series, and I do hope there’ll be a follow-up. 4⭐️

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Where They Lie in return for an, as always, honest review.

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Coughlan’s writing and characterisation were interesting and I particularlyenjoyed how character focused the central mystery really was. However, it felt a little bit too predictable for me and not particularly surprising, though an enjoyable read.

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A dark, chilling and atmospheric read that will send shivers down your spine. This is a thriller is not to be missed! Pulls you in and spits you out, brilliant novel and will look out for more from the author!

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A story of life in Ireland during the 60’s, when a cub reporter follows the story of how come the bones of a young woman is found buried in the garden of a house. Identifying it to be of an actress reported missing some 25 years ago thought to be another case of young pregnant girls ending in to the hands of illicit abortionists. Following all the leads she finds other young girls disappearing with no trace when no one cares. She learns of secret baby adoptions and other devious practises that are shrouded in secrecy that people are reluctant to reveal.

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An enjoyable murder mystery with plenty of hidden secrets and plot twists. The 1960s Dublin newsroom setting certainly added to the story as did the stigma around unmarried mothers and lack of access to legal abortion ( present day campaigners may have comments to add here)
I did find the large number of characters a bit hard to follow at times and the ending felt quite rushed in a desire to tie up lots of ends, but as a debut novel it was certainly worth a read, and I look forward to further books by the author.
Thank you to netgalley and Simon and Schuster for an advance copy of this book

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Poignant and intriguing story but slow in parts.

I was fascinated by this story of a young journalist in 1960s Dublin, chasing the story of a long missing, assumed dead, actress, whose body is discovered decades after she disappeared.

I really enjoyed Nicoletta's journalist detective work, alongside the setting of a quite vibrant and racy Dublin - actresses, parties, drugs and alcohol... all balanced against the backdrop of maternity houses, unmarried mothers and unwanted pregnancies.

Nicoletta's own relationships with her married boyfriend (whose estranged wife is back on the scene), her gay best friend (navigating his own problems with being gay in 1960s Ireland), and her parents, a doting dad and a disapproving and distant mother.

I did wonder whether it would really have been so easy to just knock on people's doors and announce 'I'm a journalist with the Sentinel' and be let inside but I'm of an age where I remember the glamour of journalism and the fact that newspapers were THE news, versus the immediate consumption age we're in now.

I also found that some parts of the story remained cloudy even after I'd reached the end of the story, Some storylines were glossed over and some characters weren't given the chance to breathe as much as they might have needed.

All in all, an enjoyable, thought-provoking story, written with a beautifully descriptive hand. I look forward to reading more from Claire Coughlan.

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