Monday, September 13, 2010

Trick of the Dark

By Val McDermid

Dr Charlie Flint is a psychologist whose career is in tatters and who is under investigation by her professional body after her recommendation sets a killer free to go on and murder four women. She's asked by her former Oxford tutor Dr Corinna Newsome to look into the background of Jay Macallan Stewart, a celebrity memoirist and now lover of her daughter. Newsome's daughter, Magda, has had the unthinkable happen - her husband murdered at their wedding. Newsome can't reconcile herself with the fact her daughter has found solace in the arms of another woman, especially Jay Stewart, another former student.
As Charlie digs into jay's past she starts to find an alarming number of people who stand in Jay's way end up dead.

I thought this was a fabulous novel, beautifully written and full of strong women characters. It's a novel that keeps you guessing. Is Jay Stewart a psychopathic killer? Or is she just unlucky and bad things happen to people around her? The story is told from different character's perspective and also from Jay's memoirs, one she is currently writing and one published which weaves throughout the novel, giving great insight into her character and the truths she's filtering, and adding doubt and confusion for the reader.

It gives a fascinating insight into collegiate times in days gone by in Oxford, McDermid's old stomping ground, so she's gone back to her roots and had fun with it.

I'm a squeamish reader, so I loved that this novel doesn't have blood and gore, but it builds up tension beautifully and as all of the narrators are pretty unreliable and busy deceiving each other, it keeps you guessing. Great read.


Uriah Robinson said...

I am about halfway through this book and agree it is a fascinating read as well as a glimpse inside the mind of the author. I heard Val McDermid talk about her Oxford days last year at a literary festival [the accent scene with the tutor is autobiographical] and it seemed she was keen to relive her time there. Gaudy Night Part Two?

Anonymous said...

Vanda - Thanks for this review. I've been wanting to read this, anyway, and your review makes me even more keen for it. These characters really seem fascinating!

Dorte H said...

When McDermid is able to control her blood lust, her novels are some of the very best!

I am trying to win it, but if not, it will certainly go on my wish list soon.