Category Archives: McBeth, Colette

Review of 'The Life I Left Behind' by Colette McBeth

Old style Kindle, with keyboard

Old style Kindle, with keyboard

Available from macmillan publishers.  In passing, Dear Reader, please note that I always try to give a non-Amazon link wherever I can for each book I review.  I’m trying to do my bit for traditional publishers, even ones as well established as macmillan.   I do this because Amazon mostly (although not always) scoop up and repackage books which other editors and publishers have done the work on, even though, I have to confess, DR, that I myself always buy from Amazon.  How else would I get books on to my old Kindle?  (Yes, it is an old Kindle now, with a keyboard and no touch screen, but I don’t intend to replace it until it conks out.)

Published early this year, ‘The Life I Left Behind’ is  crime fiction.  Following a long prologue, the book opens with the murder of Eve which appears similar to the brutal attack carried out on Melody Pieterson some years previously.  Both women –  and the dead woman in the prologue – were found wearing a gold chain with a little bird in a cage.  The story moves from Eve to Melody to Eve, back and forth repeatedly, with the result that, for some time, the storyline takes some time to get going.  Eve is bitter to the point of petulance and Melody messed up, unable to move on from her attack, and under the spell of a wealthy but controlling fiance.  At first they are difficult to love but, as the story develops, so do they, with the result that these characters grow upon the reader.  However, DI Victoria Rutter remains a shadowy figure; the only things we really know about her is she agonises about neglecting her children and she likes drinking bad coffee.  In my opinion, for a detective, she doesn’t occupy enough space in the book.

Someone has already been convicted of the attack on Melody and at first the reader is led to believe that he has struck again, but, as the story moves on, doubt creeps in.  Later on we are led towards an obvious murder suspect but there is another twist yet.  The well-structured plot and Colette’s great skill in conjuring up detail, of working through every little part of every action and of every scene, and of portraying emotion in seering intensity, lifts ‘The Life I Left Behind’ out of genre crime fiction into something more literary.

Do I recommend ‘The Life I Left Behind’, Dear Reader?  Yes, definitely.  Colette’s blog is here.  A former journalist and broadcaster, this is Colette’s second novel.

New Bridge at Mostar, Bosnia

The new bridge at Mostar, Bosnia.

Me myself, I spent a focused and enjoyable last Sunday afternoon and evening editing old stories and subbing.  (I usually find subbing a tense business.)  It was good to have the run of the house to check printed pages of snail mail subs in peace and quiet and a log fire on which to burn mistakes.   And, I’ve just learned that ‘Youth Imagination’ has accepted ‘Last Hot Chocolate in Mostar’, although it won’t appear until the March or April edition.  Hurray!