What if someone you accidentally killed came back to haunt you?
When the perfect crime results in the kidnap and murder of Megan, his only child, East End villain Mickey Speight is grief stricken. But now, nearly thirty years later, Megan sends a message to her father, gone-to-ground in present-day Margate.
As the messages from his dead daughter keep coming, Mickey teams up with a young American female therapist to discover whether this really is a voice from beyond the grave, or if somebody has loomed out of Mickey s past wanting revenge. Someone is fingering Mickey’s collar and Mickey doesn’t like it.
Mickey realises that he must haunt the old East End boozers, betting shops and strip clubs of his youth if he’s to find out what really happened to his daughter.
DEAD ALREADY is a psychological thriller that splices the ever- popular East End gangster genre with a ghost story; a cross between revenge thriller YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE and supernatural horror DON T LOOK NOW.
Thrillers tend to follow an set formula, but not Dead Already and that’s the reason I enjoyed it. You have the normal elements you would expect to see and then you have a ghostly, almost eerie feel to the story, that left me feeling quite unnerved.
The writer achieves this by taking us right into the mind of our ‘hero’ Micky, who has been haunted by the death of his daughter and wife for over thirty years. Yet suddenly he starts to receive text messages from her and the writer leads us down countless blind alleyways, which left me seriously questioning if she was alive or not. As Micky questions his sanity, I found myself questioning his grip on reality. One moment wondering if his troubled mind was conjuring up the ghosts of the past out of desperation to calm his grief. Or if the writer was playing games with me and his daughter was a ghost, haunting the man left behind to live a life half lived. It was a clever narrative to employ, because all the way through the book, I was left feeling uncertain, questioning my own judgment and that’s quite rare in more run of the mill thrillers. I liked how my perception of the story was pivoted on it’s axis, because that meant I was in the same place as Micky himself. He questions not only his past mistakes and current predicament and I felt I was doing the same.
The story itself is very intriguing, seamlessly joining events from the past to the present day, helping to explain why Mickey ended up lonely and open to possible manipulation, as well being engaged in a violent turf war with a merciless criminal. The writer showing us that the past has created a complicated present, with a web of never ending possible outcomes to the nightmare Mickey finds himself in. The result is that as readers we have to keep an open mind to the possible ending of the story, we can’t rest on our laurels and we can’t assume we know what will happen until the last few pages.
Micky as a character fits the story to perfection, in that he is flawed enough to make him interesting, but not so crooked that you don’t like him. The story works because despite knowing his past is full of criminal activities and his present not perfect, he is easy to care about. You feel his grief, you understand what drives him and your heart goes out to him, wanting his daughter to be alive and not his mind torturing him one final time.
It is a clever thriller with a dark heart and I felt by the end, the writer had delivered a first class tale.
About the author
Tim Adler is a journalist and former commissioning editor on the Daily Telegraph, who has also written for the Financial Times and The Times.
His debut self-published thriller Slow Bleed went to number one in the US Amazon Kindle psychological thriller chart. Its follow-up Surrogate stayed in the top 40 psychological thrillers for more than a year. Bestselling crime author Peter James said of Tim’s third novel Hold Still, “Adler’s engaging style and sharp pace kept me glued”.
The Sunday Times called Tim’s most recent nonfiction book The House of Redgrave “compulsively readable” while The Mail On Sunday called it “dazzling”. Tim’s previous book Hollywood and the Mob was Book of the Week in The Mail On Sunday and Critic’s Choice in the Daily Mail.
Tim is a former London Editor of Deadline Hollywood, the US entertainment news website.