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Saturday, 10 May 2014

‘Never Look Back, by Clare Donoghue

Published by Pan,
13 March 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-4472-3928-4

The inclusion of a chapter of the next book at the end of a debut is a surefire indication that the author is planning a series.

Books two is previewed at the end of Clare Donoghue’s highly accomplished Never Look Back, but there were plenty of indications before I got to the end. She has created a pair of nicely complex protagonists with plenty going on in their personal lives, and a cast of supporting players who also have lots of potential for development; and she shows she has a deft hand with a plot as well.
It’s classic Murder Investigation Team police procedural, set in a well-drawn corner of south London, where the seedier end meets the more upmarket area, so there’s plenty of room for variety in future episodes, and also for high-octane drama.

This time around, there’s a serial killer on the loose, targeting young women who share a sad medical history: they have all recently undergone abortions. D I Mike Lockyer, a sensitive soul, is knocked for six when one of the victims turns out to bear a strong resemblance to his student daughter.

Soon he is juggling four murder enquiries and a possibly connected stalker, on almost no sleep, far too much coffee and a lack of decent food – not to mention problems with the aforementioned daughter, and a brother with mental health issues who inadvertently becomes tangled in the case. The unfolding narrative is mainly seen from Lockyer’s point of view, but occasional shifts to the victims and the perpetrator create a more rounded picture.

Donoghue weaves a tangled web with great skill and pace, and the final unravelling doesn’t drop a single thread  – until right at the end, when, unless I missed something, and I don’t think I did, she simply doesn’t deal with one piece of the puzzle which has been brought to the reader’s attention more than once.

Practice makes perfect, though, and  given the quality of the character-building and the plot-building, and the way the tension builds to a gory climax, the occasional rough edge is easily forgiven; she is a rookie after all. On this evidence, she won’t stay one for long.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Clare Donoghue  After ten years in London, working for a City law firm, Clare Donoghue moved back to her home town in Somerset to undertake an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University. She was long-listed for the CWA Debut Dagger in 2011. Never Look Back is her first novel.

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.

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