Book Review – The Vanishing Triangle by Claire McGowan

I have always been interested in true crime, but I must admit I haven’t read many true crime novels so when I saw this book I was intrigued. Coming from a strong Irish background, this book instantly caught my eye, as I have always been fascinated with the history of Ireland, the good, the bad and the troublesome.

Claire McGowan is primarily known for her crime fiction and after hearing about the “vanishing triangle” she decided to write a true crime novel based on these crimes which occurred in her home country, Ireland.

You have most likely heard about the troubles in Ireland which occurred primarily between 1969 and 1998, but after that you may think Ireland to be a safe, fun country filled with friendly locals, great “craic” and if you are lucky a leprechaun. I have been to Ireland many times and since my first visit in 2001 I have seen it become a safer, more accepting country, however like all areas, it still has its dark secrets, and this is definitely one of them.

Claire investigates the mystery of 6 women who went missing between 1993 and 1998 and were never found. Many of them simply vanished in broad daylight and the lack of evidence or sign of where they may have gone is shocking. The Vanishing Triangle relates to a section in Ireland forming the shape of a triangle where these women disappeared.

What I liked about this was that the narrative wasn’t clinical or technical. Having grown up in Ireland, often nearby to the disappearance, the writer brought in her own anecdotes and experiences which made the cases more personal and interesting.

However, she doesn’t simply stop at the women named in the official search operation, she also links other potential disappearances which had a similar MO and could be considered to be connected. She discusses the life of each woman and provides the reader an insight into the events leading up to their disappearances.

I had never heard of these cases before, so it was fascinating hearing all about it. To someone familiar with these they may not find it as interesting as there is no new evidence or ground-breaking discoveries. However, what Claire does uncover to us is the dark underbelly of Ireland, the dangers that many women faced, as well as some of the many injustices they experienced, especially when the country was fiercely catholic and very strict. She also shows us how many times the police force may have dropped the ball, by losing evidence or taking too long to start looking for the missing woman or making assumptions based on their lifestyle.

Many of the events which take place will shock and unnerve you and I really enjoyed how the writer made the stark contrast between fiction and reality and clearly outlined how it would be in her crime fiction to what actually happened.

This was a fascinating read and I learnt a lot about how far behind Ireland were than us until very recently. For example, abortion was only legalised there in 2018 and up until 1993 it was illegal to be gay. I know a fair bit about the troubles partly due to my family who come from Ireland and also from my own interest in the topic, but I didn’t really know much of the other political aspects.

I know there are quite a few bad reviews out there for this book but personally I found it a really intriguing read, and for someone who hasn’t heard of the vanishing triangle it is such an eye opener to the crimes as well the judicial system in Ireland back in the 90s.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Claire does a brilliant job of opening the reader’s eyes to the atrocities that happened alongside the troubles and brings each woman to the light to highlight their case and what may have happened to them. This is a shocking, and unsettling read but nonetheless, one that needs to be heard and read by more people.

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