Today marks a first for the blog: this is the first time I’ve reviewed a self-published novel. I’m not against covering self-published books but I often find myself distracted and wishing the writer had at least had a copy-editor look at the manuscript, which means I rarely finish reading them. No such issues with Rachel Abbott’s latest psychological thriller Kill Me Again.
At the beginning of the novel, we meet Maggie Taylor, defence solicitor. Recently moved to Manchester with her husband, Duncan, and two children, eight-year-old Josh and five-year-old Lily, so she could take a job with a top firm and the chance to become a partner. On the day the book begins, she’s met ‘the worst’ client she’s ever defended, Alf Horton. Midway through the interview he told her, ‘Watch yourself out there, Maggie. Nowhere’s safe.’ She’s scared as she crosses the firm’s car park in the dark but Frank Denman, the psychologist on the case, sees her to her car.
As Maggie drives home, it begins to snow. She rings home and no one picks up. On the second time of calling, Josh answers and reveals that his dad’s left the house partway through making the kids’ tea.
Her voice trembling, she whispered ‘Call Duncan’ into her phone, almost afraid of what he would say. She heard the dialling tone. She heard the staccato tune made by the numbers. And then a long continuous tone.
Duncan’s phone had been disconnected.
When Maggie gets home, she discovers Duncan’s taken a weekend bag and some of his clothes and toiletries are missing. More importantly though…
She ran downstairs and out through the connecting door into the garage. Standing to one side against a breezeblock wall was a dark green metal cupboard, a cupboard that had been padlocked since the day she had met Duncan. Now both doors stood open, the padlock hanging loose. The cupboard was empty.
Duncan had gone.
Running alongside Maggie’s story is that of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas. Tom’s ex, Leo, has failed to turn up for a family christening. Leo’s independent but it seems out of character. When Tom goes to her flat, his instinct tells him she’s missing. The following morning, a body of a woman is found under a bridge by Manchester canal.
Linked with this is a case Tom Douglas worked on as a young inspector twelve years earlier, when two women were murdered and a third murder was attempted. The victims had three lines scored into their thigh. The first was left by the canal.
If that isn’t enough to contend with, Josh tells Maggie about a picture that was sent to Duncan’s phone before he left.
‘When Daddy opened it, I was standing right next to him. There was a picture. I only looked because I thought it was you […] A photo of a lady with red lipstick and long dark hair – spread out like yours sometimes is on the pillow.’
The following day, the police issue a photo of the murder victim…
Kill Me Again is a fast-paced, tightly-plotted, utterly terrifying psychological thriller. It’s completely gripping and I was compelled to keep reading. There were so many twists and turns and interwoven threads, it’s an impressive piece of work, even if there were moments that stretched credibility – like a defence lawyer having a husband with a locked cupboard and no idea what was in it. However, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the book; my issue with it was the murder and torture of women – mostly young with a hint of elderly due to the Alf Horton case. I can’t read any more stories about misogynists and their expressions of their hatred of women, whether it’s how they speak about them or how they murder them. Apparently, dead women sell books but this woman is no longer buying.
In August 2015, Amazon confirmed that Rachel is the UK’s bestselling independent author over the last five years. She is also listed at number 14 in the list of bestselling authors – both traditionally and independently published – over the same five-year period.
She will appear at Jersey Literature Festival on Saturday 1st October, 10am, in the Arts Centre, along with Antonia Hodgson. They will discuss crime fiction and routes into being published. Tickets are available here.