This is an updated and trimmed version of the synopsis I wrote last year, which brings the novel straight into the action; I had previously considered starting the story a couple of years before the main events outlined in the synopsis, but that may need to be included in a prequel at a later date!
It is 1975, and shy, thoughtful eight-year-old Purdey (short for Perdita) is a mongrel – half Catholic, half Protestant. She loves to leave behind the painted kerbs, Union flags, and street murals of her Belfast home to visit the nearby shore of Belfast Lough, but her parents don’t take her often enough. Her mother has told her stories of her own youth spent by the Antrim coast, and has promised to take her to see the birds this summer, both residents and migrants, that nest in the reeds and bushes of the mudflats and lagoons of the lough.
Purdey and her family’s lives are shattered that fateful summer when she is an unseen witness to what appears to be a terrorist attempt on her father’s life following a stand off with the IRA. His crime? He refuses to hand over his young Catholic assistant for “punishment” after an unspoken transgression. Unknown to anyone else, Purdey catches a glimpse of the uncovered face of one of the gunmen, and recognizes him.
With her parents afflicted by misfortune, Purdey faces an overwhelming dilemma: tell the grown ups that she knows who shot and injured her father, or say nothing and live with the terrible knowledge. Either way, her life and the lives of those close to her are in danger.
The violence surrounding Purdey’s family and neighbours escalates, culminating in the senseless double murder of a pair of young Catholic brothers, shocking even the battle weary Loyalist residents of Troubles torn Ulster.
Together with help from some unlikely allies, Purdey must find her way through the fear and hatred in her community, and the betrayals by those closest to her. All is not as it seems, and loyalty is no longer a word upon which anyone can rely, on either side of the political and religious divide.