Review of 'Before You Die' by Samantha Hayes

Available from Random House.   ISBN 978178089body1507.

I was hooked on this from the thrilling motorbike joyride on the first page.  ‘I cling to him as the wind blasts over my body, cutting through my mind, sweeping clean my thoughts’.  The pov of the prelude is in the first person, whilst the remainder of the book adopts various different third person povs.  Using first person in that amazing beginning brings it even more alive than it is already.  ‘I give him a squeeze beneath his ribs, so he knows I want to go all the way…’  Of course, the identity of the teenage girl who is ‘I’  is not revealed… but, Dear Reader, I’ve read too many crime stories.  I sussed her in about three chapters.

In the first proper chapter, the reader is introduced to DI Lorraine Fisher, making a big thing of an hour long journey by car from Birmingham Hangman Gameto the Warwickshire village of Radcote.  There has been a recent spate of teenage suicides in Radcote – but are they suicides?  Lorraine is on holiday, of course, so she doesn’t want to get involved, until she is dragged into it by her sister (whose a bit of a disaster area) and, furthermore, blatantly all is not right with her nephew, Freddie.   The story fairly rocks along, never still for a minute, involving a small number of believable characters, who rattle the plot along to its terrible conclusion.  In the Random House blurb, this work is described as a psychological suspense novel, but, although many of the events in the story were truly shocking, it felt more like cosy crime to me.  (Maybe, I really have read too many crime stories, although, if there is anything to be shocked about, I’m the first to be shocked AND upset.)

There are inconsistencies and loose ends in the plot.  For a long time, the reader is led to believe that one particular character is culpable, but, not only does he fall out of the story when the real murderer reveals himself (which is what you would expect) but his motives and actions are not properly explained.  Another character is being cyberbullied in a particularly nasty way and in a very teenage way, but, even at the end of the book, it was not clear who is trolling him , or why.  If the murderer is supposed to be the cyberbully, the murderer is not a teenager.  If the character doesn’t find out who it is but deals with it anyway, maybe that point should have been made.  There are also issues of emphasis, with two characters suddenly becoming driven by an issue which should have exercised their thoughts from the beginning.  But the story is so vivid and the characters so believable, I am happy to excuse these discrepancies with the thought that real life is rarely tidy.

Lorraine Fisher is one of the many female police detectives who has been cropping up in fiction recently.  (Leigh Russell’s Geraldine Steel also comes to mind.)  Lorraine is a real woman, not a toughnut male detective in a skirt, nor a babe who’s all boobs.  A married woman with a warm, loving relationship with her husband, she relates to her sister and her friends, her nephew and her daughter, thinking and feeling like a woman, and like a professional police officer at the same time.

Well, Dear Reader, would I recommend that you read ‘Before You Die’?   Yes, definitely.  Me myself, I’m off to download Samantha’s first book, ‘Until You’re Mine’.

On another topic, I think I may have resolved the not-getting-notifications-from-blogs-I-follow problem, as, during the time I’ve been typing this, I’ve received two notifications, one from Rachel Carrera and one from Charlotte Hoather.  It was really good to see you both in my inbox again!  So, what did I do?  In Blogs I Follow, I found the Delivery Settings and clicked on it:Delivery Settings in Blogs I Follow menu.Quite a long way down that menu,  I unchecked Block all email updates from blogs you’re following...

Block email notifications from Blogs I FollowSo far, so good!  Why didn’t I see it before?  Looking forward to hearing from you all next Monday, when all the weekly post notifications come in.

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