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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Century, 4 August 2017. ISBN: 978-1-78089637-3 (PB)
One of the things I admire most in any crime writer is the ability to
ring the changes. This is a talent Alison Gaylin reveals over and over again.
Her Brenna Spector series put a new slant on the private eye sub-genre. Her
last novel delved into the darker side of Hollywood. And now, with If I Die
Tonight, she moves right across to the eastern USA and makes a foray into
the burgeoning world of domestic noir.
Most mothers of teenage boys
will empathise with protagonist Jackie, who suddenly finds herself unable to
get through to her older son Wade. And when one of his classmates is killed in
a bizarre hit-and-run, and Wade finds himself under suspicion and in the firing
line from half the town, he becomes even more uncommunicative; things soon
start to escalate at an alarming rate.
Gaylin lays down a series
ofpossible clues: an arrogant policeman
convinced he knows best; a couple with strange sexual tastes; texts and
Facebook posts from questionable sources; Jackie's ex-husband, who has
distanced himself from the family and has issues with his sons; an observant
policewoman with a damaged past. Some are connected to the main plot, others
aren't; one trick this highly skilled author pulls off is to leave the reader
guessing which are which until the final few pages.
The claustrophobic American
small-town atmosphere is so well portrayed it almost becomes another person in
a book already stuffed full of characters so well-drawn that one detective's
moustache seems to take on a life of its own. Ageing former rock star Amy,
another victim of the hit-and-run (or was she?), is reminiscent of her namesake
Ms Winehouse. Connor, Jackie's thirteen-year-old, exhibits all the confusion
and ups and downs of early adolescence, and contrasts with his best friend
Noah, who is still very much a little boy. Helen, Jackie's one remaining friend
when the town turns against the whole family, seems too good to be true – and
we all know what that means. And although Gaylin kept me wondering to the end
whether or not Wade was guilty (read it, and wait and see!), I never lost
sympathy with his poor lost soul.
Is Amy telling the truth? Is
Wade guilty? Can Jackie and her family ever recover from the battering they
take on social media? And which of those random threads will tie into the main
plotline to form a satisfactory outcome? No spoilers from me; all I'm saying is
that Alison, or A L, Gaylin is an author well worth discovering. Read this
book; you won't be disappointed.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
A l Gaylin's first job was as a reporter for a celebrity tabloid,
which sparked a lifelong interest in writing about people committing despicable
acts. More than a decade later, she wrote and published her Edgar-nominated
first novel, Hide Your Eyes. She's
since published eight more books, including the USA Today and international
bestselling Brenna Spector suspense series, which has been nominated for the
Edgar, Anthony and Thriller awards and won the Shamus award. She lives in
upstate New York with her husband, daughter, cat and dog.
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.