The Life I Left Behind is told from three different viewpoints; Melody who was attacked so badly she was in a coma for a while, now six years on her attacker has been released from prison, Eve who is dead and DI Victoria Rutter who is on the trail of Eve’s killer.
Now I know that having a narration via a dead person isn’t new, think Lovely Bones, but I do think this device needs to be handled carefully especially for those of us who are sceptical about the paranormal. So question number one: How well-integrated into the story is Eve? Answer: Extremely well, her narrative is key and while the reader isn’t allowed to forget she is dead, she is one sassy ghost. Her character is not some whimsical, all-seeing apparition, she doesn’t appear to others and nor does she dwell on where she is, but her narrative critical to the reader piecing together who killed her.
‘What did I expect from my last few minutes? A montage of my best bits like they show on the X-Factor when the contestants are being booted out? …….In the end my regret boiled down to one last living thought ‘I didn’t have the chance to warn her.’
Melody has been beaten by her experience, now planning her wedding to fiancé Sam she doesn’t leave the house alone, ever, and her fear is twofold, one she is unable to remember what happened to her the night she was brutally attacked, secondly she doesn’t feel she can trust her own judgement as the attacker was her friend.
Detective Inspector Rutter is a mother, but one who has the support of her husband to bring up her two children while she concentrates her efforts on catching the man who killed Eve. A strong and tenacious woman she is also capable of admitting mistakes making her a truly likeable character. It is nice to have a fictional police officer who isn’t overcoming some trauma or a complete maverick for a change!
So onto question two: Did I enjoy this book as much as Precious Thing? If you read my review you’ll know I literally couldn’t put this debut down, not even to cook! Answer: Yes, although this time I planned my reading time carefully so there was no need for cooking. The elements I enjoyed in Precious Thing are here too; truly likeable and authentic characters partnered with an enjoyable writing style. I love observational moments to lighten the moment when reading scary stuff and Colette McBeth has the balance just right. Along with this there is a proper puzzle for the readers to contemplate. Now I admit I’m not all that good at working out whodunit but I do read a lot of psychological fiction, I know how it works and I thought I had this one all sewn-up quite early on. Question three: Did I spot the killer? Answer: No, as usual I was wrong and despite suspecting nearly everyone towards the end, even I can’t delude myself that I was even close.
I am delighted to have been given a copy of this book by the publisher, Headline, allowing me to read and comment prior to the publication of this book on 1 January 2015! This is going to be another book that I push on all my friends, book-lovers or not, so in answer to that final question: Do I recommend this book? Answer: If you love crime fiction, but don’t want anything gruesome, you want a book with a great mix of characters and enjoy a book firmly rooted in the present then yes, this is a great book to gorge yourself on.
My review of Precious Thing, if you haven’t read this one, don’t miss out. I’ve recommended this to many people aged from 20 to 70 and they all enjoyed it.