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Tuesday 24 February 2015

✍ The Life I Left Behind - Colette McBeth

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Published by St Martin's Press
Number of pages: 352
My rating: ★ ★ ★  I liked it
About the author

"Six years ago, Melody Pieterson was attacked and left for dead. Only a chance encounter with a dog walker saved her life. Melody's neighbor and close friend David Alden was found guilty of the crime and imprisoned, and the attack and David's betrayal of her friendship left Melody a different person. She no longer trusts her own judgment, she no longer trusts her friends. In fact, she no longer really has any friends. She’s built a life behind walls and gates and security codes; she’s cloistered herself away from the world almost entirely.

And then, soon after David is released from prison, Eve Elliot is murdered in an attack almost identical to Melody’s. With the start of a new police investigation, Melody is suddenly pulled from her ordered, secluded life and back into the messy world around her. But as she learns more about Eve's murder, Melody starts to wonder if perhaps David hadn’t betrayed her after all... if perhaps the killer is someone else entirely, someone who’s still out there, preparing to strike again."

The Life I Left Behind is the second crime fiction novel by Colette McBeth.

The novel opens with a 10 year old boy coming back to his holiday cottage to find his beloved mother dead.
From the very start the third person narration is very matter of fact.  It presents the reader with the facts that relate to the protagonists at hand; how they felt, what they thought, what they did.

The focus then moves to the first person narrative of Eve, a murder victim, who was found by chance by a dog walker, and the third person voices of Melody, a severely traumatised survivor of a similar attack, and Detective Inspector Rutter, who is investigating Eve's murder and was involved in Melody's case.

The story unravels through these three points of view; their past and their present, the paths they took finally converge into a climactic finale.

Although Eve is dead, this story is not about the supernatural or about ghosts; she appears to be stuck in this world as a by-stander, a witness, and our narrator.

In this novel, Colette McBeth shows us the mundanity of death and of tragedy; how the world hardly notices our plights. On the other hand, she also effectively portrays the effects those very same events have on us and on our loved ones.

The story line was good, albeit rather predictable, and as early as a quarter into the book, I was able to narrow down the culprit to two possible characters (mainly due to some very noticeable red-herrings which try to pull you on the wrong path).

I enjoyed McBeth's writing style, however there was often too much padding and situations felt unnecessarily flogged time and again.  I felt that many sections could have have been omitted without detracting from the story - in fact this might have allowed for a better flow and pace.

I also felt that we didn't learn enough about most of the players in this story, but that the focus was solely on establishing the link between Eve and Melody.

All in all, The Life I Left Behind was a pleasant and a reasonably good psychological suspense read, but not a page turner.

[ARC received via Netgalley]

About the Author

Colette McBeth was a BBC TV Crime Reporter for ten years.
She lives in West London with her husband and three young children but dreams of being beside the seaside.
She attended the Faber Academy Novel Writing Course in 2011.

"Precious Thing" is her first novel.
Her official sites are:

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