Monday, April 27, 2020

Review of Trick of the Dark by Val McDermid (2011, Sphere)

Criminal psychiatrist is Dr Charlie Flint is suspended from work after a man she cleared of murder goes on to kill four women. While waiting for her hearing she is asked by one of her old university professors to look into a possible miscarriage of justice. The husband of the professor’s daughter, whom Charlie used to babysit, was murdered on their wedding day. The professor is convinced the man’s business partners are not the murderers. Instead, she suspects successful entrepreneur, Jay Macallan Stewart, also a former babysitter and now her daughter’s new lover, who she believes also murdered somebody else years before. Charlie also has other motivations for wanting to visit, Oxford; a psychologist whom she has found herself romantically drawn to despite being in a steady relationship for seven years. Charlie doesn’t believe Jay is the murderer, yet she discovers a number of suspicious deaths in her past that demand investigation. McDermid spins the story around the tangled relationships of five lesbian women, told predominately through the perspective of two: Charlie and Jay. A large portion of the latter is told through extracts from Jay’s misery memoir, about her tough life growing up and the follow-up she is presently drafting. The investigation often seemed to play second fiddle to the melodrama of these women’s lives, but it’s kept moving forward through an interesting enough plot. And McDermid’s writing is very easy on the eye, keeping the pages turning. The outcome was somewhat telegraphed, but there were a couple of nice twists to offset.

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