A deliciously dark read which was simply superb!
What you want to know a little bit more? Some book reviews really don’t have to say too much at all. If you’ve read any of Sharon Bolton’s previous books you’ll know she really does know her craft; not only can she come up with a great story her characters are always fully formed. None more so in this book when the trio of characters she has created will soon have you under their spell.
Hamish Wolfe is in HMP Isle of Wight prison, convicted of the murder of three young women, fat young women. Judged by his peers to be guilty of luring the women to caves in Cheddar Gorge in Somerset and killing them. The former doctor’s mother, Sandra has set up a group to campaign for his freedom.
Sandra Wolfe invites Maggie Rose, Lawyer and true-crime writer who has managed to free seven other convicted criminals to help her but Maggie just isn’t sure that this is a case she can win but she agrees to meet the group. And what a group they are; a writer that conjures up the group mentality while picking out distinctive characters for the reader to examine, avoiding obvious clichés yet leaving this reader in no doubt of how these meetings have played out in the past is one heck of a writer!
Pete Watson was the officer that had Hamish convicted and doesn’t want Maggie digging around in the background to the killings. A man with a lot on his plate as his boss is the man who now lives with his ex-wife and their daughter what or who is he really trying to protect?
I defy anyone to read this book and not to be drawn by these captivating characters who are dancing a dance of attraction, but what are they attracted to? Beauty or brains? Who exactly is manipulating who?
With the story told in a linear time-line we also have letters written to and from the prison, emails and chapters from the draft of the book that Maggie is writing about Hamish, complete with the corny title The Big Bad Wolf! All of these items reveal that Maggie isn’t quite the cool calm collected women she presents to the outside world. On the other hand Pete doesn’t seem to quite sure whether he is still investigating the disappearance of a potential first victim to provide yet more proof of Hamish’s guilt or whether he is helping Maggie to clear his name. This is a tricky and unusual mind-set for any character in crime fiction. Normally everyone is sure which side of the fence they sit on and stick with it but I got the sense that Peter was trying to fulfil too many briefs and expectations. Perhaps his heart is ruling his head? And what about Hamish, the obvious question is of course around his guilt – did he murder those women? – but the book also goes further in asking is he capable of such an act? A question which is almost as compelling with a different burden of proof required.
The short chapters beg you to read just a little bit more and yet despite the great plot, the fabulous characters there is a questioning quality to this book. I have always dismissed the women who feature in true stories of women who are drawn to men in prison, but Sharon Bolton does go some way to examining the psyche of these relationships in an overt way and a more subtle one – I was drawn to Hamish, even without seeing him in the flesh.
Definitely one of the best crime fiction reads of the year so far I can’t recommend this stand-alone story highly enough.
I’d like to thank the publishers Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of Daisy in Chains prior to publication on 2 June 2016. This unbiased, yet gushing review, is my thanks to them.
Other Books by Sharon Bolton (aka S.J. Bolton)
Lacey Flint Series