Cover of Breaking


A missing child abroad. A family’s worst fear. A mother keeping secrets.

On a sun-hazed afternoon in the Florida Keys, a child goes missing from the beach. A mother’s scream is heard. A family is left broken. Dr Mirren Fitzpatrick appeals to the world to help find her daughter. They have come from Ireland to spend a holiday beside the sea, but that dreamy ideal has become a waking nightmare.

Yet before police are even on the scene, there are ripples of mistrust. Mirren was drinking at a bar – alone – when her youngest child went missing. Detective Rolle is sympathetic and believes Mirren's claim of innocence when she says someone must have taken Alannah, but his boss is unconvinced. As rumours abound about Mirren’s past a trial-by-media ensues, and she is turned from a figure of pity to the villain of the piece. She is frantic with worry and desperate to keep the focus on the search.

Then, a week into the investigation, footage from a smartphone shows a woman walking away with Alannah that day on the beach. The person is identified as Mirren Fitzpatrick.

Why would a mother lie? And when the eyes of the world are on them, with their every move analysed, can a guilty person hold up under the strain? Or will the pressure push Mirren beyond her limits? Soon, it’s not just a missing child at stake, but the core of a family. When the truth comes out, the consequences will see the most intimate of relationships damaged beyond repair.

As international media descend on the small island community, everyone's asking the same question: what did Mirren do before eight-year-old Alannah Fitzpatrick vanished without a trace?

Breaking is a compelling exploration of a mother under the spotlight and how the shattering of ideals can be the ruin of a family. A stunning debut from a brilliant new voice in Irish crime fiction that will see readers question their own notions of motherhood, innocence and the inescapable consequences of the past.

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