🥳 Good morning and HAPPY E-BOOK PUBLICATION DAY to Merilyn Davies! 🎉
Her debut When I Lost You is out now and only 99p just in time for my review!
I would like to thank Rachel and Arrow Publishing for inviting me to kick off this blog tour and providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Title: When I Lost You
Author: Merilyn Davies
Publisher: Arrow Publishing
Date of publication: 1 July 2019
Format: physical proof
Number of pages: 400
When a couple are the lead suspects in the murder of their only child, Thames Valley Police Crime Analyst Carla Brown and DS Nell Jackson are assigned to investigate.
A terrible case, but seemingly simple to solve, as all evidence points to the parents… But something doesn’t feel right. The couple are adamant it wasn’t them, and when the father is found dead only a few days later with mysterious letters carved into his skin, their protests of innocence don’t seem quite so hard to believe.
The case is quickly cast into doubt when the lead forensic pathologist starts receiving threatening letters alluding to a secret past – containing details only the police should know.
With so many people hiding secrets, Carla and Nell must work desperately to find out the truth – even if it hits close to home.
A new series, a new dynamic, a new mix!
What appealed me first when I received an email about When I Lost You was the author. Merilyn Davies was a former Crime Analyst with the MET. Not a police officer per say. I was spared the DC / DS / DI / DSI and all those abbreviations I have become accustomed to. What a change! I immediately wondered what this particular angle would add to a novel. Well, Merilyn Davies answered my question with a superb blend of police procedural and psychological thriller! We often put them together under the crime fiction banner and, even though elements of both genres are needed to create a good crime novel, plots usually lean towards one side or another. Not here. The balance of justice is holding two sides in perfect sync!
A baby died. I hear you! ‘It’s the parents’! We see it all the time. Statistics prove it. So, I wasn’t surprised when pathologist Eve Graham stated within the first pages that the death is not natural, and all eyes turn towards the parents. Who claim they have nothing to do with it. Don’t they all say this? Yet, something was off. My sleuth brain caught the vibe as quickly as my body can get a cold in the middle of summer. The contrast between DS Nell Jackson and pathologist Eve Graham was evident, but both felt trustworthy, and their arguments convincing. I remember thinking at this very moment ‘This is going to be tricky!!!’ I couldn’t wait to get tangled up in a battle of evidence against testimonies, instinct versus facts. Yummy!!! (I really sound mad, but I blame good crime fiction for this)
But before we get a chance to form our own opinion on the possible suspects, the author makes sure her protagonists leave their trace on the reader. I was pleasantly surprised by the gentleness showed by the officers on scene, the cold facts fought by details, like the victim’s name. Details, yes, but they make all the difference between human beings and robots. You don’t want to be only a number on a file. The realism of the first chapter caught me by surprise. The pages screaming authenticity made me shiver. This feeling stayed with me throughout the novel. I pictured every scene as if I were watching a TV show. Without all the weird inconsistencies we get on the screen!!! My appreciation for DS Nell Jackson was instantaneous. Some characters just click with you on the spot!
I was barely recovering from a strong beginning and my meeting a new team when a shadow got thrown at Eve in the form of a letter alluding to her past and hinting that her conclusions may not mirror the truth… But who had sent it? Why? An investigation on a child’s death is not a high-profile case, so targeting the police is useless. Unless…
This is where the plot gets cut in half. On one side, Nell and her team need to discover whether or not the baby’s parents are truly to blame, while on the other side, the seed of doubt creates turmoil in the lives of all sides involved. Allegations against a professional are serious, especially when this person can send someone in jail for a very long time!
When the dead baby’s father is found murdered, things get more complicated and questions arise. Where does the innocence lie?
Remember I talked about the blending of psychological thriller and police procedural? Merilyn Davies wrapped an apparent open and shut case into a giant bubble of lies and secrets, sending the reader back in time, forcing them to look for clues in every word, bringing them back to the present where a toxic smoke threatens to disrupt the course of justice.
Plot-wise, I was really impressed! Intertwined timelines and voices seemingly unconnected coming together one chapter after, like mosquitoes attracted to the fire, to deliver a splendid, horrendous, and exploding finale that left me blind. I had linked all the dots on the map, jumping from one difficult subject to the other, but I couldn’t decipher the image it created. I had a hard time processing the truth, and it took long minutes for the tension that had crept under my skin to release my body. From child abuse to murders, you get your fair share of what lurks in the dark.
But something else makes this book different, and oh-so-good!!!
Crime Analyst Carla Brown! Oh, I loved her ways, her tenacity and I need to thank the author for creating such a fascinating character. Carla is not just good at analyzing records and assisting those risking their lives on the field. Carla is a woman who cares, a perceptive colleague, and someone who won’t hesitate to go the extra mile to find the tiniest key which unlocks the door to reveal the truth. When the new boss asks her to tag along and interview people, pushing her to leave her office to be a full part of the team, she follows with trepidation, and I enjoyed this refreshing take on positions within the force. Police officers often get a magic call with traced numbers etc, but here, we get to see the actual work, the mind racing, the hours stretching to catch THE element which will make the difference.
What happens when work turns into something more personal?
If Nell and Carla begin as two clear atoms absolutely not ready to connect, the unraveling of events brings them together, creating a strong duo I would love to read more about!
When I Lost You brings a new voice, or should I say two new voices, to the genre, with a gritty and compelling plot which will satisfy the pickiest readers! It is a fantastic addictive debut!
Don’t forget that to celebrate the publication of the e-book, you can read this novel for just 99p on Amazon! Thank you, limited deal!! Or you can pre-order the paperback released on 22 August!
Merilyn Davies is a former Crime Analyst with the Metropolitan Police who worked as part of the violent and hate crime unit for eight years. She was inspired to write about strong women working in the police force thanks to the incredible women she encountered on the force, and was fascinated to explore the relationship between civilians working in the force and police officers, drawing on her own experiences being married to a serving MET officer.
She decided to set her debut thriller in her home her home city of Oxford, but the action all takes place away from the dreaming spires in parts tourists don’t stop at. She studied Sociology at university and is fascinated with the manner in which society leads people down criminal paths. She was co-founder of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival and now works for Oxford City Council. Follow Merilyn on Twitter @nellbelleandme