Written by Ali Knight — When this one came through I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Would it be a straight thriller, or would it have the kind of crime story underpinning it that we really enjoy here at Crime Fiction Lover. Did that woman in a blurry red dress on the cover, and a blurb asking how well you know your husband, mean there would be too much relationship introspection inside and not enough dark, gritty intensity?
The main character is Kate Foreman. Late one night she hears a noise downstairs and discovers her husband Paul with blood all over his hands, extremely drunk. He’s crying like a baby, and then he passes out. Kate is at first shocked and disturbed, but becomes annoyed when, the following day, she gets the brush-off and he claims he’d run over a dog. He refuses to account for himself properly.
Kate works part time on a TV show which is a bit like Crimewatch. She has two young children, and a high flying husband who’s not just handsome and charismatic but he co-owns a successful production company. They’ve got a big, old house in a London suburb. Great. But why is Paul lying? The tension ramps up when Melody Graham, a promising and pretty young colleague of her husband’s is found dead in some nearby woods. Kate lies to the police to give him an alibi, then regrets it. She’s torn between hoping he’s innocent, and fury that he might have been having an affair.
Using her skills as a crime show researcher she sets out to find the truth. There are all sorts of angles. A man who featured in her TV show has just been released from prison after a 30 year stretch for killing his wife with a magician’s rope. Melody was strangled with such a rope, but also stabbed in the heart. Business machinations are occuring too – Paul’s company is selling out to a bigger one and something is making his partner Lex tetchy. Whilst juggling looking after her kids, social engagements, working and wishing for a return to normality, she swings between emotional boozing and incisive rationalism (just like plenty of noir detectives do).
Eventually, the police suspect Kate of the murder and she goes on the run, bringing the story to an intense climax. You’re never quite sure whether Paul’s going to pop out and kill her, the police are going to nab her, the released murderer is going to strangle her, or whether those business cronies have been setting her and Paul up. Yes, there is a lot of relationship-related paranoia. There’s also a broad variety of believable characters, a fantastic crime story, and a gripping life-or-death ending. My initial skepticism was blown away – this is a strong debut by the author.
Hodder & Stoughton
CFL Rating: 4 Stars