Review: After You Die by Eva Dolan

Friday 19 February 2016
Title: After You Die
Author: Eva Dolan
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date:
Pages: 384
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Dawn Prentice was already known to the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit.

The previous summer she had logged a number of calls detailing the harassment she and her severely disabled teenage daughter were undergoing. Now she is dead – stabbed to death whilst Holly Prentice has been left to starve upstairs. DS Ferreira, only recently back serving on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty, had met with Dawn that summer. Was she negligent in not taking Dawn’s accusations more seriously? Did the murderer even know that Holly was helpless upstairs while her mother bled to death?

Whilst Ferreira battles her demons, determined to prove she’s up to the frontline, DI Zigic is drawn into conflict with an official seemingly resolved to hide the truth about one of his main suspects. Can either officer unpick the truth about mother and daughter, and bring their killer to justice?

After You Die once again introduces us to the fantastic duo of DS Ferreira and DI Zigic. In the beginning we are told about Dawn Prentice. Dawn was already known to the Peterborough Hate Crimes unit before she was discovered stabbed to death and she was known to the police because she had told them the previous summer about the harassment that she and her severely disabled daughter had been receiving. Dawn's daughter Holly had been left to starve upstairs, found by the police after the discovery of Dawn's body. Eva Dolan has an incredibly powerful writing style, it really packs a punch and leaves its mark on the reader. She has this incredible ability of making her characters become real people, and whilst this is fiction, some deft research, brilliant characterisation and storytelling make this a book that goes way beyond being just another crime fiction book.

As well as giving us that real human element to her stories, Eva always centres them around events that are real talking points, things that in the media would get people's blood boiling and leave those at home wanting justice for the victims. That's exactly how I felt when reading After You Die. I am loathe to discuss the particulars in too much detail because the blurb is ambiguous in revealing where the duos investigation leads them, and it leads them down many different paths, with numerous suspects. Despite it being a tried and tested formula, it always feels new and different with Eva's books, and following the investigation, and singling out some suspects more than others is always something I enjoy with this series. After You Die is an incredibly thought-provoking book, talking about things I already have firm opinions on, and things which whilst being sensitive subjects, are tackled in such a skillful way by Eva that they never become gratuitous. This is a story that could be discussed for hours at a book club.

DS Ferreira and DI Zigic are a unique and brilliant duo. Their own personal stories once again being extended further throughout the story but never at the cost of the main plot. Everything runs along smoothly. They are two characters that every reader should and will have no trouble rooting for and believing in. I particularly like how different they both are from each other, but at the same time just how well they work together despite that. I don't find it difficult to choose a favourite, and that favourite is DS Ferreira. She is perhaps the more complex one out of the two to read about and she's been on quite a journey across the series and whilst Zigic has also been on a journey of his own, I just think I enjoy (if that's the right word) reading about Ferreira's more. I probably like them as a duo even more because they don't suffer from Supercop syndrome which I do find seems to affect American detectives more than those on British soil. Ferreira and Zigic are flawed and make mistakes, a huge one in Ferreira's case as she blames herself for not doing more to help Dawn and Holly.

I often find there's some snobbery when it comes to crime fiction, and whilst I would say After You Die is more towards the 'higher class' of crime fiction, should such a system exist, I do still think that books such as this don't receive all the recognition that they should because this really is an outstanding piece of not just crime fiction, but writing in itself. That said, Eva has made great waves in the genre and is a much-respected author and I know that I'm not the only one who is incredibly excited to see how she continues this story and I hope that one day we can see it on the small screen, as it would make for a brilliant (and long-running) TV series. If you are yet to pick up one of Eva Dolan's books then what are you waiting for? They are beautifully researched, making them incredibly authentic and her emotive writing leaves its mark long after you've turned that final page and started another book, her characters will still be pushing their way to the front of your mind.


  1. A great review. Thank you for sharing. I think that crime fiction is beginning to gain more respect, as there are some top authors writing excellent books....

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