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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Published by Matador, 28 January 2020. ISBN: 978-1-83859262-2
An unusual thriller, and all the
better for that. It’s an interesting premise: we know almost from the start,
thanks to interwoven chapters simply headed ‘Malevolence’, that someone is out
to wreak havoc of some kind on an innocuous young couple, Dominic and Laura
Walker – but we don’t know who, why or how.
novel begins as Dominic is being interviewed by police. He is accused of
killing his wife Laura, and events are related in the first person, from
Dominic’s point of view. Dominic seems ambiguous over the murder, while he’s
not denying it he’s not exactly admitting it either. He insists it’s very far
from the straightforward, open-and-shut case the police believe it to be, and
so our interest is piqued as he agrees to tell the detectives everything.
go back to a birth thirty-five years earlier before zipping forward to Dominic
and Laura, and their lives today. They’ve had a blip in their marriage –
Dominic was unfaithful some time ago and Laura is only just learning to forgive
him – but they’re trying hard to put that behind them and rediscover their old
unity. But someone is out to get them.
chapters are interspersed between Dominic’s relating of his and Laura’s lives
and the short, malice-filled chapters by Malevolence. It’s a great device for
ramping up tension and also establishing the relationship between Dominic and
Laura. We become convinced that teacher Dominic is a mild-mannered man and very
unlikely to have killed his wife, the love of his life, and forget that early
chapter as we’re caught up in their everyday. Then something huge happens. I
shall give nothing away apart from saying this is a page-turner that remains
thoughtful and original despite the compelling pace, and I found myself unable
to put it down in the final third. It’s very rewarding, and the ending
did find Dominic at times frustratingly passive and rather dim, but this never
became a problem sufficiently serious to stop my reading or, mostly, my
enjoyment. His is a well-drawn character even if not a wholly sympathetic one. There
were certainly plausibility issues, but the storytelling was highly proficient,
and I was more than content to go along with it.
While the standard of tehwriting was good, the standard of copy-editing was not quite what I'd expect. A thorough proofread by a seasoned professional would have picked up the
many errors and it’s a shame that obviously didn’t happen. But again, the
problem wasn’t so bad as to hinder my enjoyment. The device of ensuring the
reader knew rather more than the main narrator, but very far from the full
story, was skilfully exploited and more than made up for other deficiencies. A
good read; recommended.
Darren Willswas an English teacher for over 30
years. He has a keen interest in crime (though his only criminal conviction is
for hitchhiking on the motorway). Alfred Hitchcock provides his inspiration for
his fast-moving thriller debut. He lives in Sheffield.
DeaParkinis an editor with her consultancy Fiction
Feedback and is also Secretary of the Crime Writers’ Association. She writes
poetry and occasionally re-engages with The Novel. When she isn't editing,
managing or writing she is usually to be found on the tennis court – or
following the international tour at home on TV. Usually with several books on
the go, she entertains a penchant for crime fiction, history, and novels with a
mystical edge. She is engaged in a continual struggle to find space for
bookshelves and time for her friends and her cat.