Every once in a while I ask the publishers I follow on Twitter for new releases that they think I will like. One of them is Alison Barrow from Transworld Publishers and she is also in charge of the great Kate Atkinson. This time Alison kindly sent me a review copy of Like This, For Ever by Sharon Bolton (previously known as S.J. Bolton).
Keep telling yourself it’s only fiction… As you read this heart-hammering thriller from the queen of London’s crime scene.
Bright red. Like rose petals. Or rubies. Or balloons. Little red droplets.
Barney knows the killer will strike again soon. The victim will be another boy, just like him. He will drain the body of blood, and leave it on a Thames beach. There will be no clues for detectives Dana Tulloch and Mark Joesbury to find. There will be no warning about who will be next. There will be no good reason for Lacey Flint to become involved… And no chance that she can stay away.
Keep telling yourself it’s only fiction
I had never heard of Sharon Bolton until Alison pointed her out to me. But since then, Bolton has written a very special piece on her blog about the importance for women to use their complete names and not merely their initials as she once did, because there is nothing wrong or shameful in being a woman writer. You can read the text here. Once she had won my heart over such a manifesto, I started reading Like This, For Ever originally published last November.
The novel interwines four points of view (an unknown narrator, Barney, Lacey and Dana) surrounding the mysterious disappearance and killings of four boys in South London. I think these four narratives help to produce a realistic and fluent narration because, isn’t it how a case really develops? Everyone has their own theory and the killings affect each of the characters in different ways. And it is in this psychological description that lies Bolton’s real strength: she knows fear, she plays with it and she makes you feel it. From darkness, to hearing the waves and the tide at night, to being home alone as a child, she just masters the descriptions. Feelings and emotions are also accurately described in the complex way they present themselves to us. Barney is a twelve-year old, but he suffers anxiety in a way that any adult could. And you totally relate.
Regarding the crime, Like This, For Ever has one of the most original, complex and misleading cases I have read. There is not a single moment the reader’s attention is not caught, because Bolton wants the reader to work their way through evidence and hints as anyone involved in the investigation would do. I, for one, am very thankful when a crime writer does not take me for granted and I worked my way through the novel guessing, failing and, sometimes, getting it right.
And, finally! Like This, For Ever is full of powerful, intelligent but complex women investigators (DI, DC, profiler, psychologist, journalist…) and, one of them is even a homosexual. It is not very common to come across a woman and a traditionally non-normative sexuality in crime fiction, but probably this is my fault and I plan on fix this as soon as possible. However, it is in the dynamics of a relationship described on the book that I decided to give 4 stars to the book.
So, I would totally recommend Like This, For Ever to any crime fiction fan. The characters are complex, the crime keeps you on the edge of your seat and Bolton’s description of feelings, emotions and especially fear is a masterful one.