BOOK-MOUNTAINS-WILD-REVIEW-MCT

‘The Mountains Wild’ by Sarah Stewart Taylor; Minotaur Books (416 pages, $27.99)

“The Mountains Wild” by Sarah Stewart Taylor; Minotaur Books (416 pages, $27.99)

Grief over the loss of a loved one never leaves a family, as Sarah Stewart Taylor’s razor-sharp launch of a new series adroitly shows. “The Mountains Wild” uses the evocative background of Ireland to further explore its characters, who share the Emerald Isle’s remoteness, mystique and complicated past.

Erin Flaherty’s disappearance 23 years ago in Dublin, where she had moved for college and work, has left her family in tatters. Her broken father hopes each day to find out what happened, as does her cousin Maggie D’arcy, now a homicide detective in Long Island, New York.

When Erin first vanished, Maggie went to Ireland and spent weeks talking to Erin’s friends, scouring the countryside, and giving insight to the police about her sometimes wild, often unpredictable, cousin. At the time, police thought Erin might have been linked to the disappearance of other young women at the same time.

Now, decades later, Erin’s scarf has been unearthed in the Wicklow woods in Ireland while police were looking for a missing schoolteacher. Taking an extended vacation and leaving her teenage daughter with her ex-husband, Maggie returns to Ireland. The Dublin police hope Maggie’s insight will help them find the missing teacher as well as resolve Erin’s case. “The Mountains Wild” smoothly alternates between 2016 and 1993, showing the maturation of Maggie, whose loyalty to her family and concern for her cousin is unshakable, despite her often awkward relationship with Erin.

Maggie’s initial investigation sharpened her career plans and sealed her future as a police detective. Since then, Maggie has proven her mettle in high-profile cases in Long Island, making the unsolved case of Erin even more glaring.

In addition to her intelligent characters, Taylor has sculpted “The Mountains Wild” as a valentine to Ireland, delving into its beauty, history and varied landscape — all of which lead to “a warm, homecoming sort of feeling. We may not be able to travel to Ireland right now, but Taylor has brought the country to us. “The Mountains Wild” is a terrific series launch. Readers will relish spending more time with Taylor’s storytelling and her smart characters.