As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Piatkus, 20 April 2017. ISBN: 978-0-349-41465-2 (HB)
Perhaps the first thing to say about this tense debut psychological
thriller is expect the unexpected.
It opens with a bang: a young
mother relives the horror of the morning a masked gunman invaded her home and
forced her to choose which of her ten-year-old twins he should murder. Trauma
enough to knock anyone's brain for six, and Madeleine Castle plumbs the depths
of post-traumatic shock for most of the first-person narrative.
Understandably, nothing she
remembers, about either that horrific day or any other part of her life, feels
quite real – and she rapidly begins to carry the reader along on her wave of
memory, imagination and dread. Was it somehow her fault? Did she favour one
twin over the other, and choose to sacrifice the one she loved less? And what
is the significance of the rose bushes, the packed suitcase, the diary... all
the shards of memory which are scattered around her mind, refusing to coalesce
into a complete picture?
Samantha King displays an
enviable knack for drawing the reader into the emotional life of her narrating
protagonist; I found myself tensing up as Madeleine was about to step into
danger (which she does more than once), and willing her to make the right
decision and run as fast as possible in the other direction.
Another of King's talents is
to build backstory. Here it's vitally important – a large part of the whole
story, in fact – but it's also a skill which could stand her in good stead in
future books. Her characters, too, leap off the page: Dom, Madeleine's
charming, larger-than-life husband; Max, his feckless brother; Annabel and
Aidan, the twins with hugely different personalities; Lucy, Maddie's outgoing
and perceptive friend; Professor Hernandez, the doctor who helps her piece it
all together. Even minor players such as Carol the motherly nurse, Mr Cooper
the infirm but observant neighbour and Michelle the compassionate cop come
across loud and clear.
If I say I spotted the
villain pretty well on his first appearance, that says more about my
crime-fiction-honed suspicious mind than King's ability to build narrative
tension; but even though I was pretty sure of the outcome, I never for a moment
wanted to stop reading. I desperately wanted Maddie to sort out the chaos in
her brain and work out not only what really happened that fateful morning, but
also why, and why she didn't see it coming.
This is a promising debut
from a new author with plenty of skill and potential. The Choice can't
be anything but a standalone, but I look forward to seeing what Samantha King
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Samantha Kingis a former editor and also a qualified
psychotherapist. After her childhood in the south-west of England, teenage
years spent in the north-east and student days somewhere in between, she
finally settled in west London where she enjoyed a career publishing other
people's books, before going freelance and surrendering to a long-time urge to
write her own. She lives with her husband and two young children, who inspired
her to write The Choice, her debut
novel. An English graduate and lifelong bookworm, Samantha is always fascinated
to hear readers' opinions. You can share yours with her at: Facebook:
@SamanthaKingBooks Twitter: @SamKingBooks
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.