Written by Rachel Abbott – Lies. Even a teeny weeny white one can snowball into something of epic proportions if you’re not careful. But if everyone told the truth, where would crime fiction readers be? Or defence solicitors for that matter?
Maggie Taylor is one of the latter, newly arrived from Suffolk to join the team at a high-powered Manchester law firm and eager to make her mark. Unfortunately, that means representing the odious Alf Horton – charged with torturing and abusing a succession of female elderly victims. He gives her the creeps and his parting shot as their interview closes embeds itself in her brain: “Watch yourself out there Maggie. Nowhere’s safe.”
Trying to dismiss her misgivings, Maggie sets off home to loving husband Duncan and her children Josh, aged eight, and five-year-old Lily. A quick call to say she’s on her way unveils a bombshell. Duncan has gone, leaving in the middle of making the evening meal, and the children are all alone.
This opening salvo, combined with a prologue in which an unnamed woman is kidnapped by two masked men, ratchets up the tension to near-breaking point, and we’re only a few pages in! It’s this breathless, thrill a minute style that has established Rachel Abbott as the UK’s most successful self-published writer and the 14th bestselling author of the past five years on Amazon’s UK Kindle store, alongside the likes of Gillian Flynn and Lee Child.
So, Duncan has disappeared and Maggie begins to receive threatening phone calls. What would any normal, law abiding woman do at this point? Phone the police perhaps? But Maggie instead decides to do a little digging herself, and the more she uncovers, the more she realises she never really knew her husband of 10 years. Remember what I said about lies? They play an ever more important role as this tale progresses.
Meanwhile, DCI Tom Douglas has a missing person of his own to find. He and Leo may not be together any longer, but when she doesn’t turn up for her niece’s christening, Leo’s sister Ellie calls Tom in a panic. Leo has always been a little unpredictable, but when he calls at her house there’s no sign of her and her bedroom looks as if it’s been ransacked. Then a woman matching Leo’s description is found murdered…
As you may have already gathered. there are enough plotlines in this book to inspire a whole series of crime novels. But this is Rachel Abbott after all, and she just loves to pile on the drama. This is the fifth book to feature Tom Douglas – and fans will be delighted to make his acquaintance again – but Kill Me Again can work just as well as a standalone.
This is a book that had me turning the pages deep into the night, and as the spaghetti-style strands begin to coalesce into something less tangled you begin to make connections and come to conclusions – some of which are likely to be way off the mark. The problem is that there is just so much going on here that it can all get a little overwhelming at times.
Abbott is at her best when exploring the unravelling of an ordinary, run of the mill life and Maggie’s plight alone would be enough to keep the reader on point, but I began to lose patience with Maggie when she persistently refused to see sense and was altogether too trusting for her own good. She’s an intelligent woman and a loving mother, so why put her children in any danger?
I’d easily worked out one of the final twists ahead of time, although another caught me completely unawares. Yes, dear reader, more than one twist – Rachel Abbott certainly gives value for money. Kill Me Again is probably the weakest of her novels so far but it is still well worth adding to you to be read list.
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Black Dot Publishing
CFL Rating: 3 Stars