Book Review: Daisy In Chains

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Daisy In Chains, by Sharon Bolton, is a psychological thriller that grabs the reader’s attention from the off and doesn’t let go. The tension and sense of foreboding that permeates each page make it hard to put down. This is a book that will demand you read just one more of the short chapters until the end.

The protagonist, Maggie Rose, is a true crime writer and lawyer who has made her name overturning the convictions of murderers. She takes on few cases as she is only interested in those she is convinced she can win. When she is approached by supporters of Hamish Wolfe, a handsome doctor serving a life term for the murder of three young women, she is reluctant to engage as she can see no immediate flaws in his conviction. This is unacceptable to his fan club. Apparently it is a thing that felons acquire fans who adore them and care little for what they have done to warrant incarceration.

Maggie shows no desire to take on the Wolfe appeal but is intrigued by the web surrounding the man. She is befriended by the policeman who led the investigation into his crimes, whose career could be at stake if she were to become involved. His concern for her welfare, especially when Wolfe’s supporters find out where she lives, starts to penetrate her carefully cultivated reserve.

Throughout the telling of the tale clues are given which made me think I knew where the plot was heading only to discover that while I may have guessed correctly this was simply another thread leading elsewhere. The twists and turns are chilling, unexpected and suffused with a darkness I found delicious to explore. The characters are intriguing, each planting questions in the reader’s mind as to motivation and how this meshes with the plot. 

Wolfe’s victims were overweight and the insights into how popular society regards fat girls was poignant. The advice given on how to disappear and remain hidden were an interesting aside.

The denouement ties together the many strands whilst leaving a little space for reader interpretation. The questions over who was using who and why are answered. There is much to ponder around the after of a prize so hard won.

A highly enjoyable read for fans of this genre. The author is a master at her art. Treat yourself by picking up this book.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Bantam Press.

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Book Review: Little Black Lies

Little Black Lies

Little Black Lies, by Sharon Bolton, is disturbing, riveting, haunting. Set in the Falkland Islands a decade after the Argentinian invasion of 1982, it tells the tale of a close knit community brought to the brink by a series of child disappearances. Themes of grief, trust and the lies people tell to protect themselves are explored. How well can one person truly know another?

Catrin and Rachel have been best friends since childhood; that is, until Catrin’s two sons are killed whilst in Rachel’s care. Their deaths devastate them both. Three years later all Catrin can think of is revenge. Rachel is fighting her own demons in the form of crippling depression.

As Catrin considers the methods by which she may make her former friend suffer the most, a visiting child to the islands goes missing, the third in just a few years. The community mobilises to search for the little boy believing that he must have wandered off from his family. Few are willing to consider that he may have been taken. When a small community has grown up together, lived in close proximity, sometimes for generations, it is hard to accept that one of their own could act in such a heinous way.

What follows is a series of events which lay bare the individual secrets that are being harboured by so many. In the space of a few days accepted weaknesses become threats, causality is assumed and sides are taken. Actions that would previously have been understood as a necessary part of life on the islands are cited as proof of inhumanity.

The writing is dark and menacing. The isolation of the location along with the potential danger from natural phenomena on land and at sea are used to good effect. The reader feels the threats but cannot be sure of their source.

Woven into the mix is the plethora of damaged people who have all managed to present acceptable fronts to society. The grieving mother holds down a good job; the former soldier with PTSD is well liked; few realise how much Rachel is being hurt by her apparently supportive parents. What would normally go politely unremarked becomes reason to distrust.

The tale is filled with small town secrets and petty lies. These are not, however, what the story is about. At its heart is the darkness and isolation that can be created when a community turns on its own, how quickly trust can turn to hatred when those who belonged become ‘othered’.

I did not guess the denouement and found it most shocking of all; not because of who it was but that it appeared the secret was to be kept. I will be haunted by that thought. How far would those we know go to protect their loved ones?

I finished this book in a day. It got under my skin and I could not put it down. I envy those who have not read it the treat they have in store.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Bantam Press.

This review is part of the Little Black Lies blog tour.

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