Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Dead Woman Walking – Sharon Bolton

Crime Fiction

What do these items have in common? A hot air balloon, a bunch of nuns and peacocks, well they all come together in one of the most unusual of crime novels, Dead Woman Walking, written by the incredibly accomplished Sharon Bolton.

Perhaps the next question should be what do I look for in my crime fiction? After all I read a fair bit of this genre, and we’ve all read the complaints about the now almost compulsory serial killer or the amount that we have to suspend belief for the story to work or perhaps how tired a format the more straightforward police procedural can seem against the fast and furious thrillers that dominate the charts. Now I’m not saying that I consistently subscribe to these views but I will admit that even if I haven’t written the words myself, I’ve considered their merits more than once. I would say I want a book that feels unique, a story that I can believe in, one that challenges the normal format and one that has me rooting all the way for the good guy but, and here’s the difficult bit, I also like to have my beliefs challenged or at least to look at an issue from a different perspective. Sharon Bolton accomplished all of this in this thrilling tale. Yes, this book is also full of tension and intrigue and there is no better device for this than a race against time.

The day starts so well for sisters Bella and Jessica with a balloon ride to celebrate Bella’s fortieth birthday so both women are up early on the Scottish border. They get into the basket and float up above the landscape, the trees and the large isolated house, they are skimming the landscape close enough to see but far enough up to be just within the safety zone. Then one of the passengers witnesses an act of violence perpetrated by a man against a young woman. The man’s eyes meet those belonging to the person who saw it, and then the balloon crashes.

What follows, and I promise you the above is about all you get in the synopsis, is outstanding. There are so many twists and turns but none seem in the slightest way put into the book for cheap thrills, these were the real deal pirouettes of twists! All of this meant that when they came I had to take a deep breath and assure myself, yes that really happened! And this wasn’t just once, the revelations slipped into the sentence turned the entire book on its head more than once. There is also a Police investigation complete with media presence and behind the scenes differences of opinion along with more dead bodies than I’m usually comfortable with but each distinct part felt as though it was new although of course those nuns and peacocks helped!

Sharon Bolton was already close to the top of my must-read author list and this outing has established her at the number one spot. If you haven’t read any of her books, where have you been? You really don’t know what you are missing. Pitch perfect plotting and dialogue that seamlessly integrates with the characters and situation means that the readers are treated to a read that they won’t forget in a hurry.

P.S. This is probably not the book to read if you have a hot air balloon ride booked anytime soon!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Alison Barrow of Transworld Books who very kindly sent me an advance review copy, up there with the best book post of the year!

First Published UK: 20 April 2017
Publisher: Bantam Press
No of Pages:  368
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Fantastic Fiction by Sharon Bolton
Standalone Novels

Sacrifice (2008)
Awakening (2009)
Blood Harvest (2010)
Little Black Lies (2015)
 Daisy In Chains (2016)

Lacey Flint Series

Now You See Me (2011)
If Snow Hadn’t Fallen (2012) Novella
Dead Scared (2012)
Like This Forever (2013)
A Dark and Twisted Tide (2014)
Here Be Dragons (2016) Novella


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

35 thoughts on “Dead Woman Walking – Sharon Bolton

  1. Fab review Cleo loved this book, at I’ve always had a fear of going in a hot air balloon it seems my fears are justified after reading Dead Woman Walking x


  2. Brilliant review Cleo and absolutely agree. There are very few authors where I would just preorder their next book without even knowing what it’s about. But Sharon Bolton is one I trust to deliver every single time x


  3. I’ve been reading your reviews, that’s where I’ve been, haha! You have a way of talking about this author’s magical writing and brilliant plots that just makes me want to jump on all the books right away! It’s a fabulous and convincing review, and now I’m gonna break my buying ban xD


  4. I like Bolton’s work very much, Cleo, so I can see how you thought this was an excellent read. And one thing I like about her is that she doesn’t go for the ‘cheap thrill’ or the easy shock. She really creates strong characters, doesn’t she? Glad you enjoyed this.


  5. I agree that Sharon Bolton has delivered on every story I’ve read by her and for me she just keeps getting better! I didn’t have any of the twists figured out which thrilled me. And the nuns and peacocks were just an excellent added touch:) Really enjoyed your review Cleo!


  6. As far as I’m concerned Sharon Bolton cannot write a bad book. I consider myself to be one of her biggest fans. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading this one.


  7. I keep thinking that I’ve read this author, because I read Little Black Lies, but the one I read was from another author. Dead Woman Walking does sound like one I would enjoy. Thanks for sharing.


  8. That opening sounds like a blend of the beginning of Enduring Love (which has a balloon tragedy) and Girl on the Train with someone witnessing a flashing picture of a crime. I appreciated your assessment of what you look for in a book – with the number of crime stories you read I did wonder whether they all blend into one after a time so for anything to stand out it must be really special


    1. I remember Enduring Love, another book that made me wary of hot air ballooning! Many authors do a great job of keeping the story fresh but it inevitable that popular themes crop up and they seem to go in cycles so I had a glut of serial killers for a while!


  9. Great review! Hehe – isn’t it a fab book? She’s at the top of my list too – I loved those nuns so much! And she’s such a clever writer – her plotting is fantastic…


  10. I loved Daisy In Chains, it was the first and only book I have read of Sharon’s. But it did make me excited for the next one, which is this one. I’m glad it sounds as if it is as good as Daisy. After reading Daisy, my tbr grew quite a bit longer. Great review, the books sounds thrilling.


  11. I chose this book because on the one hand I already liked Sharon Bolton et on the other hand because I trust your opinions blindly 😉 Well, I coudn’t agree more with you on this one ! A fantastic read by an author who’s becoming more and more accomplished. Thank you for your piece of advice !


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