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Friday, 6 December 2013
‘The Start of Everything’ by Emily Winslow
Death, especially when it’s suspicious, sends ripples out in all directions. A murder affects not only the perpetrator and the victim, but their circle of family and acquaintance, the police who investigate, and often a whole raft of random strangers as well. And sometimes a murder brings a lot of long-buried baggage bubbling to the surface. Which is partly why it’s such an intriguing subject for fiction.
Emily Winslow is a new name to British readers of mystery and mayhem, though less so to our American equivalents. She settled in Cambridge with her family a few years ago, and until now her chilling university-based suspense novels seemed to be more popular across the Atlantic. All that is about to change.
Her second novel, The Start of Everything, follows five people, all involved in one way or another when a young woman’s body is discovered on the outskirts of Cambridge. Their five versions of events not only weave a pattern which ultimately produces a solution to the suspicious death; they also illustrate the way murder can have consequences only peripherally related to the crime itself.
Mathilde is a young woman with autism, whose obsessive nature puts her in harm’s way when she tries to track down the sender of an inadequately addressed letter. Chloe is a newly promoted detective inspector entangled in workplace politics as she investigates the suspicious death.
Morris is Chloe’s erstwhile work partner, newly returned from a severe injury sustained on an earlier case and still fragile as a result. Grace is a former Cambridge student who couldn’t quite hack it, and took a job as a nanny in a rather odd household.
George is a young Cambridge don with a dark secret in his past. Each voice is distinct, and the stories they tell are skilfully interwoven to create an complex, multi-stranded plot. It’s all set against a background which shows the author’s familiarity with Cambridge, both the city and the university.
Fans of Sophie Hannah’s intricate suspense novels and Kate Atkinson’s quirky Jackson Brodie series will find plenty to hold their attention here. It certainly held mine. Emily Winslow is a name to watch.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.