It’s been nearly 17 years since Alison Lennon — young, beautiful, idealistic, uncompromising, pushy — disappeared and her body was found beside the ruin of Terryland Castle, Galway. Her murderer was never found. Fast-forward to the present and her friend and the man who produced her campus radio show, Fergus Connolly, finds a Facebook site set up in her name. Is her killer thumbing their nose at the world?
Fergus delves back into his past — from when Alison first walked into his life, headhunting him for her show (called Well I Wonder after the Smiths’ song) to the last night he saw her alive after a customarily wild night out on the tiles. Who, he asks, from his student days in UCG could be the killer? The radio show, an outlet for Alison’s radical feminist views, certainly attracted more than its fair share of critics and, in the wake of its spearheading the on-campus Yes campaign for 1995’s bitterly divisive divorce referendum, haters. When Alison then decided to use the show to take on the anti-abortion activists on campus, life for her, Fergus and the rest of the Well I Wonder crew became near intolerable. What started off as poison pen letters and crank calls descended into vandalism, beatings and death threats.
But it wasn’t just Alison’s political activism that may have put her life in danger; there was also her tangled private life. Influenced by women’s studies lecturer, Claire McConnell, with whom she was having an affair, Alison had embarked on a determined pursuit of promiscuity and a programme of pushing society’s mores to the limit. Fergus, who falls in love with her over the course of Well I Wonder‘s run, cannot keep up with her long list of lovers and one-night stands. Add to that the infighting and petty jealousies within the feminist discussion group that Alison and Claire led and there is no shortage of suspects either for the police at the time of the murder or a middle-aged Fergus.