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Thursday 18 August 2016

‘After she Fell’ by Mary-Jane Riley

Published by Killer Reads,
28 April 2016.
ISBN: 978-0-008181109

Seventeen-year-old Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff, and her mother is convinced it wasn’t suicide. She asks her journalist friend Alex Devlin to investigate – and Alex soon finds out that all’s not as it should be at The Drift, Elena’s private boarding school.

This novel is told in the third person throughout, centring alternately on Alex and Elena. Alex is investigating in the present, while the Elena narrative begins twenty-nine weeks before her death, and gradually moves forward in time, until the last chapter shows us what really happened. Both narrators draw you in, Elena particularly for the courage with which she faces her difficulties: a Queen Bee girl clique, a pair of thuggish boys, and a secret love affair. Alex is having difficulties with her son, who’s gone off to Europe to find the father who doesn’t know he exists, and her former boyfriend, undercover policeman Malone, has reappeared in her life. Her investigations bring her into conflict with both staff and pupils of The Drift, as well as into grippingly-described personal danger. The central theme of parents and children is handled gently, but without sentimentality; in the end, the parents too have to face up to their shortcomings, but Alex at least has a chance to put things right with her son, Gus. The plot moves swiftly, with a lot going on, and a number of neat twists, particularly the end surprise. This is a sequel to The Bad Things, and there are spoilers, so if you enjoy contemporary psychologial thrillers, you might like to start with that.

A tense, well-written psychological thriller with characters you get involved in, and a twisting plot. Recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades.
Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing psychological suspense, drawing on her experiences in journalism.
The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads. Her second book, After She Fell, also published by Killer Reads, is out on April 28th.
In her spare time Mary-Jane likes to walk the dog and eat a lot. Good job she likes walking.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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