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Sunday 14 August 2022

‘Truly, Darkly, Deeply’ by Victoria Selman

Published by Quercus,
7 July 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-52942-064-7 (HB)

The question that lies at the heart of this accomplished and chilling novel is one that’s guaranteed to give the most confident person pause: how well do we really know the people we believe we’re close to?

Sophie Brennan was resentful and hostile when her mother Amelia-Rose tore her away from the security of her grandparents’ home in Massachusetts and moved thousands of miles away to London. But then charming, upbeat Matty Melgren came into their lives, and life became fun again. Matty took the place of the father who had abandoned them when Sophie was too young to remember him, and she grew to adore him.

Even when a spate of killings struck terror into hearts of young women, especially ones who resembled Amelia-Rose as the victims did, Matty was reassuring, and allayed their fears and worries. And when their slightly sleazy odd-job man neighbour was taken in for questioning by the police, it seemed Matty was right to be confident that nothing would happen to them.

But twenty years later, Sophie knows better. The killer turned out to be Matty himself – and now he is dying in prison and wants to see her. He has always denied his guilt; is it time for the truth to come out?

The story unfolds in both time-frames: Sophie’s childhood, as Matty weaves himself into the fabric of their lives, and her adult self, in therapy, damaged and unhappy, now asking herself if she will get the answers she has craved since childhood – and if she really wants them after all.

The result is a layered, satisfying novel full of twists, turns, richly drawn characters and a final twist you’ll never see coming. Matty is the antithesis of the conventional sad-case serial killer; he is sociable, cheerful, holds down a responsible job and enjoys warm friendships and a close and caring relationship with both Amelia-Rose and Sophie. Amelia-Rose is complex, blowing hot and cold when Matty avoids the topic of marriage, sometimes light-hearted, other times edgy and uneasy.

It’s not a conventional thriller, but all the more chilling because you think you know what happens right from the start. But what do we really know, and what do we surmise because we see what we want to see?

Once you start reading you won’t want to put it down until the questions are answered.

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Victoria Selman  graduating from Oxford University,  and the studied Creative Writing at the City Lit and wrote for the Ham & High and Daily Express newspapers. In 2013 she won the Full Stop Short Story Prize and her first novel, Blood for Blood, was shortlisted for the 2017 Debut Dagger Award.

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 in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fictio

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