You need to know who your husband really was… When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed… When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger. Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets… .
‘A stark, gripping storyline’ Scots .
‘A fine, page-turning thriller’ Daily Mail
I would like to thank the author, Orenda Books and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC in return for an honest review.
After He Died is a story about family, love and relationships. It asks the reader do we ever really know those we love? It is also a superb thriller and a very addictive read.
What did I love about this domestic noir?
The characters for one! Paula is a grief stricken widow, who in the face of almost unbearable loss, must fight protect herself and the memory of the man she married. Her grief is powerfully written, it is all consuming on times, yet on others she is able to function at some basic level. You can feel both her loss and her strength, which allows her move forwards, even when grief threatens to wrap her in its wretched embrace, drowning her is waves of desolation and malaise. It’s a outstanding depiction of the many stages of morning a person can go through and yet the story is never allowed to be swamped by it, Paula is more than the grief that consumes her, she is a women with an inner strength that she draws from to try to survive another nightmare her life is being consumed by. Then we have support characters like Joe, her brother-in-law, a flawed and vulnerable man, a priest and fascinating in his own right. Often writers make the mistake of not fleshing out the less prominent characters, but not Michael Malone, who understands that if a novel is to work, each character, however minor a role they play, needs to be absorbing enough for the reader to invest in. I loved his story, however minor, as much as that of Paula’s and that shows the depth of great characterisation in After He Died.
And then there is the story itself. Great characters need a story to inhabit and this is certainly worthy of them. Packed with thrilling twists and turns that keep you guessing right to the end, After He Died is a real page turner. But it is also has a clever and intricate storyline that is not swamped by the thrills, or defined by them. It builds like a classical thriller over the cause of the book, as the layers of the story and slowly peeled away revealing a web of betrayal and lies. Multiple threads are combined together to form the story and they draw together perfectly leaving me astounded at the web of treachery all the characters had been caught up in.
Why would I recommend this book? Because it is a top quality thriller, which left me wanting more from this writer.
About the author
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.