Father Gabriel has finally returned to St Mary's Abbey, but all is not well in the sleepy Wiltshire village of Sutton Westford. Joseph Beaumont, a former village boy turned London property developer, has returned to build a row of houses on the grounds of a disused mine. A local opposition group – led by Joseph's boyhood nemesis – campaigns to stop the development, and Joseph finds himself the target of increasingly menacing threats. Then, workmen make a gruesome discovery on the building site: the skeleton of a child who went missing thirty years before, while the Great War was raging. Fr Gabriel is called in to investigate, but the task seems impossible. How can he uncover a secret that has been carefully hidden for three decades? Is the killer even still alive? Worse, as the tragic details emerge of a lost little girl's final moments, Gabriel is tormented by the memory of his own daughter and the life that was stolen from her many years before.
Missing Presumed Lost explores the themes of childhood innocence, guilt, and the responsibilities faced by society to protect the young. The book also delves deeper into Gabriel's own troubled past and the need to lay it to rest.
"Catholic writer Fiorella De Maria deserves a wide audience."
— Publishers Weekly
"Who could ask for more than a meticulously crafted, smartly humorous mystery novel? This is a literary mystery with an erudite sleuth, and while Father Gabriel may be even more concerned with souls than sleuthing, he can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Hercule Poirot in matters involving the little gray cells. A small and austere village in post–World War II England is where Father Gabriel and the reader encounter deceit and human frailty writ large."
—T. M. Doran, Author, Seeing Red and Toward the Gleam
"More than a whodunit, this mystery is a meditation on what it means to belong and yet not belong, to be an outsider in the place you call your home. By exposing the bitter class hatreds and sectarian resentments of the 1940s, Fiorella De Maria rips the 'cozy' label from the vintage village crime. The sufferings of kind-hearted Father Gabriel remind us that every murder story is a horror tale, and never a jolly spree to enliven a weekend in the country."
— Dorothy Cummings McLean, Author, Ceremony of Innocence
"Father Gabriel carries as a painful treasure the memory of a lost child. It gives this post–WWII detective story about discarded innocence a deep and poignant tone, hinting at the no-less-tragic loss of countless children even before birth in our post-modern era."
— Fr. Armand de Malleray, F.S.S.P., Author, Near Missed Masses