The moment I found out Kill Me Again was due for release on February 17th, I put everything else down and updated my Facebook ‘Book and Pudding Club’ group. The response was excitable, especially due to the handy half term timing, and I began to anticipate a very long and lazy afternoon snuggled into a chair with a cup of tea to indulge in the next installment.
So you can imagine my overwhelming joy and excitement when, moments before bedtime, I received an email asking if I would like an advance edition to review Rachel’s latest book. Sleep went out the window and I agonised. Of course I wanted to read her new book, right now, and write a review. My last (and indeed first and only) review was glowing, inspired as it was from sheer enjoyment of the book, yet I felt a self-imposed pressure to be critical, purely because I’d been asked to write the review. I like to encourage by nature so this didn’t sit easily, and in the end I decided I would just be honest: read the book, and speak frankly – as is my wont. Happily for me, there was no need to worry; it’s a great read again, with all the twists and tension one might hope for in a psychological thriller.
As ever, I found myself beginning Rachel’s latest book in my usual spot – on the train. And as ever, the anticipation did not end in disappointment. I already knew that DCI Tom Douglas would reappear from the blurb, but I was even more thrilled by the reappearance of names from books past – namely the first one that I’d read (but I didn’t read them in order!). Becky and Tom’s effective partnership continues, as do their reassuringly realistic imperfections and single-mindedness. The familiarity of the cast multiplied my care, fear and desperation that all would turn out as I wanted; these people are real to me. Maggie, as a defender of people so remorseless yet a caring mother, was another of the complex characters I have come to expect from Rachel’s writing, though initially somewhat stuck outside of my familiarity with Tom and Becky’s worlds, but as her world began to unravel, my sympathies grew. Her whole life hangs on a question – how much can you ever really know someone?
Kill Me Again throws up this question a number of times. Because of course you can only ever know as much as they want you to. How do you know the truth of what someone is telling you? If someone has deceived you by keeping the past hidden, by definition how would you know? These questions about characters intrigued me and kept me guessing in a similar way to Rachel’s other novels, even while dreading the answers.
In many ways, I could apply the same questions to the characters I felt I knew so well, as this book switches between still unsolved murders of 2003 and present day killings, filling in details of their past lives and experiences in unexpected ways that give us more insight into those supposedly familiar characters. These murders are seemingly unrelated, yet with a particular, distinctive marker connecting them all. This time shift also gives the curious disappearance of Maggie’s husband Duncan further mystery due to his undisclosed past suggesting that he is perhaps somehow connected. As ever, I find myself trying to match Tom and Becky’s deduction and solving of clues. What is the connection? Who is the perpetrator? Is it just the one? The striking similarities between victims means a very specific few people could easily be next.
Kill Me Again is peppered with moments of breath-holding tension, cleverly combined with just-enough detail to sustain the mystery necessary for a good psychological thriller. Once again, I read feverishly, only realising my tension when I stopped to look up. This for me has become a hallmark of Rachel’s novels – to be gasping aloud on the train and uttering ‘No, no, no!’ while fearing my suspicions are inevitable. Hopefully my dramatic reactions are not too unnerving for other travellers, but I think they’re also a high recommendation.
I would definitely recommend Rachel Abbott again.
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