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Daisy in Chains - Sharon Bolton

My thanks to Transworld for the review copy of this book. The following review is a honest opinion of my thoughts on Daisy in Chains.

 

Hamish Wolfe, convicted serial killer has a legion of admirers and fans. Fans who have created support groups, who write to him declaring undying love and who are keen to see him released. So eager are they that they petition Maggie Rose, Barrister and true-crime writer to take on Hamish’s case. Having a track record of securing the release of convicted killers Maggie will only take on cases when she believes she can receive a favourable outcome. And she’s not one who can easily fall for the charms of charismatic, handsome men. There’s a chance however that Hamish Wolfe may change her mind….

This book had me enthralled from its first few pages. I was soon eagerly turning the pages to find out more about Hamish Wolfe and whether Maggie would take on his case and if the real killer, if indeed there was a real killer, would be revealed.

 

I loved the characterisation in this book. Hamish Wolfe perfectly cast. Throughout there is the hint of danger about him, granted he is a convicted killer, but is one who many believe is innocent. There is something hidden about his past, something that has made him the man he is and it casts a dark shadow over this supposedly charismatic and charming man. He also has to have one of the most perfect names for a convicted killer I’ve ever come across. Detective Sergeant Pete Weston was one of my favourite characters. Flawed he may have been but he was many other things. Clever, controlled in the face of trying circumstances, kind, secretive and funny. He is a character that I would love to read about in future books. As for Maggie she is a complex, unique individual. Controlled also, seemingly devoid of feelings, she is thorough, reserved and matter of fact. Yet as the story progresses and we see more of her drafts of her true crime novel about Wolfe we see a different side to Maggie. Slowly facets of her character are revealed to show the person beneath the cool exterior. This is very much a character driven novel and there is not a single character who does not add something to the story.

 

The short chapters are interspersed with newspaper articles, drafts of Maggie’s novel about Hamish and letters from Hamish and a variety of people. This worked remarkably well, adding layers to the story, revealing clues here and there whilst not revealing too much. And of course such chapters easily lend themselves to the justification of ‘just one more’ before reluctantly closing the pages for a short while.

 

This book is oh so cleverly done. There are twists and turns, misdirection and red herrings aplenty. Sharon Bolton can certainly create a compelling and creative story. A good thriller hooks the reader in. A great thriller keeps them hooked until the last word and leaves you wanting to go back and read it again to see if you could have picked up more clues. Daisy in Chains is such a book. Oftentimes what I’m seeking in a book is that indefinable something, I call it the atmosphere of the book. It’s when a world has been created that I don’t want to leave, so wrapped up am I in the characters and the story that is unfolding around them. Luckily Daisy in Chains had such an ‘atmosphere’. I had figured out part of the story early on in the book. It was fascinating to see how the clues were planted, hints here and there as to what happened, what was real and what wasn’t. There were aspects that I didn’t anticipate and it was when I read these that I realised just what a treat and what a great thriller Daisy in Chains is.

 

There were times when the novel made me feel very uncomfortable and indeed question my own thoughts about myself. It is a commentary on how physical appearance can shape society’s view of us. The pressure to confirm to the media’s ideal shape and the potential for self-loathing when we feel we don’t measure up. It raises the issue of how some people can dismiss the potential for criminal behaviour, or pure ‘badness’ if the person in question is physically attractive, well educated or both.

 

There were a few minor niggles I had, barely worth mentioning and which may only have arisen out of my (now most likely out of date) knowledge of criminal law.

 

I have only read Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Daisy in Chains is the first of her standalone novels that I have read. It is, to date, my favourite of her. Outstanding, clever, thought-provoking and riveting. Highly recommended.