Review: The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth

Friday 2 January 2015
Title: The Life I Left Behind
Author: Colette McBeth
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 1st January 2015
Pages: 384
Source: bookbridgr Review Copy
Rating: 4/5
Purchase: Amazon
Everyone tells her she's a survivor. No-one knows she's dead inside.

She's dead but she's the only one who knows what really happened;

What your friends have said.

What the police missed.

Who attacked you.

So if you want the truth who else are you going to turn to?

A few weeks ago I said to myself that I'd save some of my favourite looking proof copies for the Christmas period, and get reviews scheduled for the New Year. It's only now, as I read them that I realise I've chosen some of the books that are the hardest to review, first I had the thriller The Ice Twins followed by Simon Kernick's latest, The Final Minute. Now it's Colette McBeth's second psychological thriller, a book which has left me wanting to scream at strangers in the street to read yet I have no idea how to tell them why without giving the story away.

Fellow bloggers wrote very highly of Colette's first book, Precious Thing which sadly I'm yet to get around to reading and so I had very high expectations for The Life I Left Behind, and from the minute I read the blurb on my proof copy I was even more excited. 'I'm the only one who knows the secrets her friends have hidden, the mistakes the police have made. I'm the only one who can warn her she's still in danger. I know exactly who attacked her. He's the same man who killed me.' Why even write a review? That alone should make you want to pick up this book... I suppose I should try and say something about why I enjoyed it so much.

We have three main characters: Melody, a woman attacked six years ago, Victoria, a detective in charge of hunting down the killer of a woman named Eve, and Eve herself who lives on as a narrator in the novel and who is a character I won't be forgetting in a hurry. The mystery for the reader is of course is Eve's killer the same person that attacked Melody and it's a mystery that had me hooked, one minute I had it worked out, the next Colette had me doubting everything I'd thought up until that point. But it's also a very character-driven story, and whilst this was excellently done, I'm personally more about the action and sometimes in the novel that was missing for me.

Straightaway I lost myself in Colette's writing, she has a way of drawing you in, it's captivating and it's addictive and once I started reading I found it hard to stop. I've never read a book where a dead character was narrating, but I don't believe that when we die we cease to exist (nor do I believe we live in the clouds with our dead family) but rather that something of us remains in the present. Having heard stories from family members and reading about Liverpool's paranormal history, something lives on and I had no trouble accepting a dead character as a narrator in this novel. Not all the characters are likeable, but nor are they meant to be. It's very rare that I find myself wanting to shout out loud at a book, or at a fictional character but I did here numerous times.

Already I am reading mixed reviews for this book, it's definitely one that's going to divide opinion but also one that is going to be incredibly successful. As psychological thrillers go there were moments that weren't exciting, moments that were a bit slow but looking at the book as a whole it was a very impressive read, and it held my attention throughout therefore I have no trouble recommending it. Colette McBeth for me could be a standout writer in this genre and I already can't wait to see what she's going to write next, and will hopefully be getting round to reading Precious Thing very soon.

But don't just take my word for it, here's some reviews from a few of my fellow bloggers: Christine (Northern Crime), Tracey (Crime Reader) and Karen (My Reading Corner)


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