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Past Life: the 'addictive' and 'astonishing' crime debut of 2019 that everyone is talking about Hardcover – 7 Mar 2019
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It's gripping, addictive, a thrill of a ride. This is crime as it should be written. one of the best, original introductions of a protagonist I've read (Jo Spain)
A great story told with real poise (Simon Kernick)
I really loved this...a twisting, heart-wrenching story with wonderfully vivid characters (Claire McGowan)
Memory is at the centre of Nolan's bold and sharply written book...In a genre oversaturated by samey stories, Past Life is a dark crime fiction debut that feels fresh, smart and thrilling (Culturefly)
A policewoman suffering amnesia must find the truth about her own violent kidnapping in Dominic Nolan's thrilling, roller coaster debut. Tense, gripping and full of twists and turns, this read will keep you on the edge of your seat. (Dead Good Books)
A policewoman suffering amnesia must find the truth about her own violent kidnapping - in a thrilling crime debut as smartly gripping as Susie Steiner's Missing Presumed and Belinda Bauer's Snap.See all Product description
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Abigail Boone, at the start of the novel a Detective Sergeant, is brutally injured while investigating sex-traffickers in east London. As a result, she suffers serious amnesia which leads to emotional problems with her husband and teenage son not to say her police career. Undaunted, she continues her search. Along the way, she befriends some interesting characters, not least a former Bulgarian prostitute and a convicted criminal. The first of these, Roo, is my favourite character in the book. She's been through horrors but has a wicked sense of humour, some great observations and her less than perfect English brings a smile. Some of the dialogue between her and Broome [as she wishes to be known] is top drawer as is that between Broome and her friend Barb, still in the police. The main characters here are female, all showing grit, determination and friendship to each other, something that stands out.
The subject matter, centering on under age sex, is unsavoury and the perpetrators what you might call usual suspects. No spoilers!
I was concerned with about 50 pages to go as to how he'd finish it. I shouldn't have worried. It's done very well indeed even if it doesn't make for easy reading.
Although the beginning is in London, most of the book is set in Kent, either in the old coalfield in the East or on the Medway. For Broome, as for Pip, "hers was the march country".
One niggle, if I may. I wish he wouldn't use 'passed' instead of 'died'. Kent isn't a US state!
Superb book though.
Abigail is a very intriguing character. We know she has suffered from a horrific accident leaving her with very limited memories from her past life, when she worked as a detective, specifically on missing person’s cases. But she doesn’t seem to want to go back to the woman who she was before, leaving her husband and son frustrated. There is one thing that is driving Abigail though. She knows that before her accident she was attempting to solve the disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still and she knows she was on her trail in the days leading up to her accident. Abigail is determined to find out what happened to the young woman, in the hope that it will answer some questions for her as well.
I think what intrigued me most about Abigail is the fact that she didn’t seem to want to try and connect with her family. It almost felt as though at times that she wanted them to remain strangers to her, and this did have me asking so many questions about her family life and her character. Was there anything that she was frightened of? I could easily imagine how her family must be feeling about this as I thought about how I would react in their shoes.
The mystery element here was so engaging. We know that Abigail was working on Sarah’s disappearance who has been a missing person now for six years. She decides to continue investigating, even though she is no longer a serving police officer, and her investigations take her close to some dangerous individuals who are intent on causing her serious harm. Dominic Nolan kept turning up the tension as she continued to try and find out what had happened to Sarah, and I feared that something terrible was going to happen to Abigail again and that this time she wasn’t going to get away.
Roo was another fantastic character in the book who is a firm friend of Abigail’s. It seems that Roo is the only person who she can rely on at times; I really liked their interactions with each other. All the characters in this book are well drawn and they are what made the story so engaging and especially the landscape which was described so well.
I’m not sure if this book is part of a planned series, but I would definitely like to return to find out how Abigail is getting on. Past Life is an absolutely riveting debut thriller. You won’t be able to forget about the characters once you have read it. It comes highly recommended from me.
Abigail Boone was a Detective with Kent Police, investigating the disappearance of a young local woman when she was found badly beaten and with no memory at all. She has literally no recollection of any of her past life. There are some things she instinctively remembers, like how to drive, but the fact that she has a loving husband and a teenage son, there is ….zilch.
She simply does not know who she is and nothing that her family do is making any difference. They try hard, playing her music she has loved, she tries reading novels in her house that she must have enjoyed at some point, but nothing makes a dent in her psyche. She is a stranger to her family and worse, a stranger to herself.
Invalided out of the police with what she regards as undue haste, and isolated inside herself, her only instinct is to go back and look at the case she was investigating when she was abducted. Going now simply by Boone, she begins, with the help of an old colleague, Barb, to go back over the case files that she was investigating.
Devoid of connections, she is a rogue operator. She takes lessons in Krav Magna to help her feel more secure, but apart from that, she investigates this case with all the finesse of a bull in a china shop, not caring who she upsets or what unwanted attention she attracts.
Where she does make genuine, human connections, though is with women who are living on the edge. There are some remarkable characterisations here and friendships are forged which feel true and important, much more so than any connection she fails to make at home.
Dominic Nolan has written a gripping, pacy novel about the very real and horrible subject of people trafficking and it is dark and violent and at moments, almost unbearable to the characters you have come to care about.
There is no glibness here; no easy answers. Life is hard and those who survive have to be harder still. It is searing, intense and some of its characters are strangely endearing, so that you end up caring about a woman who seems to have no care for herself.
Well written, with darkly funny and believable dialogue, it is the depth of the characters that resonates and the sense of melancholy that prevails.
For a debut novel, it is fantastically accomplished.