Friday, 2 January 2015

'The Life I Left Behind' by Colette McBeth

Thanks to for the review copy of this title...

When the body of a young woman is found in a London park, there are similarities to a previous case of attempted murder.  The previous victim, Melody, may be alive but she is barely a shell of her old self.  When she hears that the man has actually been successful this time, she fears the worst, as he has been released from prison and come be coming back to finish what he started, all those years ago.  When she sees a photo of the dead girl, it is almost like looking in a mirror.  There is also a necklace found in the latest victims hand, that is identical to the one found with Melody.  Bu,t despite her best efforts, Mel has always struggled to remember the night of her attack.  Selective memory perhaps, or is there a more sinister reason?

This is the second novel from Colette McBeth and is another psychological thriller with a strong female presence.  The narrative is one which is both believable and frightening, all the more so for its setting, characters and multiple view points.  Through the victims thoughts, we see how she ended up disguarded in a park, almost as an afterthought.  From Melody, we see how some women can be controlled by the men in their lives, sometimes without it being very obvious at all.  DI Rutter is a great example of a career woman, trying to get the home/work balance right and hoping her life doesn't pass her by too quickly.  

The writing is eloquent, descriptive and dialogue is minimal.  Direct access to the female characters thoughts gives the reader an insight that is not there for the male characters, as the author chooses to focus just on the females.  This hopefully means there will be no comparison to Gone Girl, as the tag lines that have appeared on the vast majority of female crime fiction and thrillers are becoming a real bore.  This novel would be better compared to Sophie Hannah, who also uses strong female protagonists to bring her stories to life.  I would like to know more about DI Rutter and how her colleagues reacted to her investigation.  Maybe there will be more books featuring this DI? 

This is a great thriller, a real page turner with lots of twists throughout.  A little slow in the middle section, but, thankfully, picks up pace again with a fantastic crescendo to finish.   It's also worth noting, that it is not part of a series, so there is no need to read the authors two books in order. 
This is an author who will be around for a while, so make room on your bookshelves...

The Life I Left Behind is published by Headline Review and is available in Hardback and ebook format.

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