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The Damselfly: A gripping and unnerving crime thriller Kindle Edition
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I cannot review one of Susi’s novels without commenting (again) on her skill at defining characters. Everyone in the story seems more vibrant and realistic than some authors can achieve with their main character. The realism is a problem in The Damselfly though as in this story we have the nasty problem of cyberbullies. The creeping menace of social media is being used to stir up tension and suspicion and it makes for very uncomfortable reading.
The story opens with Katie, she is a bright student and is seeking to improve her lot in life and hoping to get away from Banktoun and move to the bright lights. Sadly fate has a different idea for Katie and her life abruptly comes to an end leaving a mass of unanswered questions and plenty of candidates for the finger of suspicion to point at. A murder mystery means we get the police involved and in Banktoun that can only mean a welcome return for fan-favourite Davie Gray.
I totally lost myself in The Damselfly. From the early shocking murder of Katie Taylor we see how her death will impact on different characters in the town. Her family torn apart by the tragedy, her classmates believing they know who must be involved and trying to take the law into their own hands, her teachers coping with the shock and trying to support Katie’s former classmates. And, of course, the police who need to unpick Katie’s secrets when nobody seems to want to help them.
The Damselfly is a murder mystery which leaves you wondering who you should trust…A five-star page-turner, I loved it.
Back in the 1990s, groundbreaking New Zealand crime writer Paul Thomas wrote an award-winning trilogy of gritty crime novels that had a beloved recurring detective, Tito Ihaka, who was never actually the 'main character' in any of the novels. Similarly, Holliday has a Banktoun cop, Davie Gray (now promoted to being a Detective in this third book), who is in all the books, tying them together, and who investigates the crimes, but isn't in fact ever the main central character in any of the books.
Holliday creates an intriguing cast of characters beyond the investigating police, from Katie's troubled family to a teacher rightly or wrongly in the crosshairs to new school counselor Polly, who is returning to Banktoun after years away. There's a real feel of a small town, with connective tissue of varying strengths running between its citizens, but plenty of secrets behind twitching curtains.
There's a really strong narrative drive to THE DAMSELFLY, which hurtles along at great pace without feeling 'breezy' or 'thin' by skimping on character and setting. There's a lovely tension, while at the same time plenty of depth. A strong voice, even with the multiple viewpoints.
THE DAMSELFLY is a five-star level book from an exciting newer voice in British crime writing, the kind of book that makes you want to immediately go and grab another tale from SJI Holliday.
The small and complex community of Banktoun faces yet another tragedy when young Katie Taylor dies, our favourite Davie Gray investigates but feelings are running high and secrets lurk around every corner. The author brings a creepy sense of utter reality to the small town vibe, with a keen eye towards characterisation that just sucks you into the vortex of a place where everyone knows everyone else but nobody knows anyone at all. It is clever and cohesive plotting with an edge of ominous foreshadowing – as such it is completely gripping throughout.
The twisty road to the truth of what happened to Katie will keep you turning those pages well past the point of reason (books like this are why I keep matches close to prop my eyes open) and it is an emotive and irresistible read with an ending that will blow your mind – I won’t say what I said at the moment of putting this one down but it wasn’t that polite.
The Damselfly is intense, intelligent and powerful, a beautifully done tale of twisted genius with an authentic edge and an strong emotional core – without doubt it comes highly recommended from me.
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Perfect pace, gripping storyline, characters you can feel for.
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A tragic but well written story with relatable characters and just the right...Read more