ORION Brooke Magnanti’s first stab at a crime thriller hits all the must-haves of the genre – secrets, lies... and dead bodies. Protagonist Erykah Macdonald had little to call her own growing up, but she turned things around and has a ‘nice’ life now – the kind of life you’re meant to want; pleasant house, good friends... But something’s not right. Stashing little bits of money away here and there, she watches her husband leave for work every morning, but she knows he’s not going to the office. As her 20th wedding anniversary approaches, she’s about to cross a line. Several hundred miles away, young couple Daniel and Maya are enjoying a romantic weekend away in the Scottish Hebrides, kayaking around Skye. With a ring weighing heavy in Daniel’s pocket, it was always going to be a holiday to remember. And so it turns out, but not in the way either had hoped. In the shallow waters off the island of Raasay, the athletic lovebirds stumble across a
‘Magnanti’s easy-to-read prose and compelling plot make this a must read for crime thriller fans and those who enjoy discovering hidden depths of characters’
body. Submerged beneath the surface, it’s been in the water long enough to make identification tricky, but it’s clear this is no accidental death.
Back in London, Erykah knows she’s about to make a choice you can’t reverse. But she’s lived with secrets most of her life anyway – she thinks she’s ready. The trouble is, there are far worse secrets than her own about to emerge.
From the gurney of a morgue in the Highlands, to the media circus of the national press, via the seemingly calm suburbs of London to the powerplays in Westminster, a net is tightening. And it seems that those caught in it are willing to kill to get out with their reputations intact. Erykah must work out what she’s capable of if she’s going to keep her head above water.
The first of its kind from Magnanti, aka award-winning blogger Belle de Jour, this intriguing tale succeeds in sucking the reader in from the first pages. Having received a Ph.D. in Forensic Pathology from the University of Sheffield, where she studied in the Medico Legal Centre and specialised in the identification of decomposed human remains, the author’s know-how comes through in the authoritative narrative describing powerful and gruesome scenes when her victims are laid out on the slab at the morgue, while Magnanti’s real-life experiences at the centre of a media storm are also drawn on when Erykah’s husband apparently wins the lottery, and they are thrust unceremoniously into the public eye, with Erykah’s past inevitably coming back to haunt her.
Partially set in the familiar, contemporary landscape of post-referendum Scotland, and featuring the aptly-named Morag Munro, a particularly entertaining Highland MP who’s so bad she’s brilliant, this engaging mystery spins a web of political duplicity and deception. Magnanti’s easy-to-read prose and compelling plot make this a must read for crime thriller fans, as well as those who enjoy discovering the hidden depths of well-written characters and plenty of intrigue.