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Monday, 19 September 2016

‘Penance’ by Kate O’Riordan

Published in Paperback by Constable,
4 October 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-4721-2126-4

‘We’ll never get through this. We’re all broken now.’

Bitter words from 15-year-old Maddie Douglas after a police officer brings the news that her elder brother, Rob, has died in Thailand. Maddie goes off the rails, insisting she is to blame for his death. In order to make some sense of Rob’s death, she and her mother Rosalie go to bereavement counselling where they meet the beautiful and charismatic Jed Cousins, 19, who is mourning his dead grandmother. There is an instant connection between Maddie, Rosalie and Jed, and soon the young man becomes part of the family.

At first Jed has a soothing effect on them all. He is lover and confidante to a besotted Maddie, and a surrogate son to Rosalie. But before long Rosalie finds herself obsessed by Jed and begins to worry. Then, while her husband is away, she lets him move into the house and sleep in her dead son’s bed. Events begin to spiral out of control. Rosalie is forced to try and discover the truth about the beautiful Jed and in doing so finds out just how far she will go to save her family.

In the aptly named Penance, Kate O’Riordan skilfully weaves a dark and swirling tale about grief and loss, guilt and shame, family secrets and family lies. She ably sustains the tension and intrigue throughout the novel, which, with its many twists and turns, comes to a dramatic finale. For me, this was a perfect psychological novel and I read it over one day. I haven’t read any other of her books, but I am certainly going to look them out now. A highly recommended read.
Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley

Kate O'Riordan was born in the West of Ireland. Her first novel, Involved (1995), was shortlisted for the Dillons First Fiction Prize, and has been adapted by the author for TV. She is Lecturer in Media and Film Studies at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. Her research interests center on the intersections of sexualized and gendered bodies and information and bio technologies. She has been a recipient of The Sunday Tribune/Hennessey Prize for Best Emerging Writer. She lives in London.

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.

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