Title: The Seventh Victim
Author: Michael Wood
Narrators: Joanne Froggatt, Mathew Horne
Length: 11h 25min
Release date: 05 March 2020
Imagine receiving a letter from your son’s murderer. Imagine starting to trust him.
What if the only person who can help you find your son is the man in prison for killing him?
A child taken. A mother on the hunt for the truth.
Twenty-five years after her son Zachery disappeared without trace, Diane Marshall receives a letter that overturns her world once again. The man convicted of killing 13 boys, Zachery among them, finally confesses to it all – except the murder of her son.
Armed with this new information and determined to discover the location of his body, Diane and the former DI in charge of the case start investigating. Somewhere out there, her son’s killer is waiting as the reckoning draws nearer. Sooner or later, the terrible truth – buried and undisturbed for a quarter of a century – will out.
Tight knots, heavy pasts, mistakes, guilt, horror, and a tremendous amount of tension. The Seventh Victim was an intense read, one that had me staying up at night listening to the perfect interpretations of top-notch narrators who breathed life many people’s nightmare.
I have met many bad guys – serial killers, rapists, demons with human faces, but few ever felt as devilish and real as Jonathan Egan Walsh, convicted of having killed thirteen boys, including Diane Marshall’s son Zachary. 25 years later, and beaten by cancer, this monster plays his final card, a tease to make sure all those involved in his case would not forget him. Living separately, those scarred people are reunited when Diane Marshall receives a letter from the dead guy saying he had nothing to do with her son’s disappearance.
Oh the pain. Pains, in fact. Agony oozes from the voices of the characters. A mother’s cry for the truth, a DI forced out of her job by a haunting case that pervaded her personal life. A journalist who got burned the pages of the book he has written. Michael Wood reunited quite a cast to build what I can only describe as a giant thriller bomb. A very ugly bomb and very old bomb left brewing for too long.
If the novel begins in the past, with the account of Jonathan Egan Walsh’s arrest, his prosecution, and many facts about the case of so many kidnapped and/or killed boys, it becomes personal really fast. I had no idea what to expect, so I was surprised to connect easily with the characters. I love Joanne Froggatt and she proves once again how brilliant she is by making me feel so close to the women in Michael’s novel. His superb characterisation is served by amazing narrators who gave me tears, goosebumps, ‘oh’ moments, and made the listening of this audiobook a unique experience.
The plot is excellent. I could write ten paragraphs listing the reasons why but I don’t think it is necessary. Eerything flows – the days, the horrendous discoveries, the long hours, the not-knowing… I loved hating Jonathan, and I loved taking the good guys’ side, even more when chapters reminded me they were only humans too, with their own dark sides…
The not-knowing… Can you trust a man who has killed little boys and never admitted his crimes? There was no room in my heart for Jonathan, yet I found myself captivated by his story, eager to crack the shell and finally get answers that time had kept hidden but not lost. Early on, my sleuth skills were on high alert and I draw my personal list of suspects. After all, what if he was telling the truth… for once? Then who could have benefited from Jonathan’s acts and his being convicted, giving them the perfect way out for a murder? The guessing-game was enhanced by the fact the investigation is not police-led, but driven by three people who have suffered from the hand of a ruthless man who has destroyed more lives than his files take into account. The pace was going up and down, just like my pulse, jumping from those moments when nothing makes sense and nothing happens, those moments you are lost in your head and your grief, to breakthroughs that I knew could not bring happiness in the end… Michael Wood knows how to keep you awake!
I must apologise to my neighbours, who have probably heard me yell ‘I KNEW IT’ when I reached the end of the book and saw my suspicions confirmed. What a feeling!! Not just because I love being right, but because the author has written such cracking case that after all those incredible hours spent wandering all paths to find the truth, I was rewarded with a brilliant and heart-wrenchingly ugly ending. The realistic and terrible kind of ending that make my heart beg for more. I love Diane and her mother, Catherine and Jaimie, Alex and his daughter and wife. The book is 11 hours long, but their stories spans twenty-five years, so when it was time to say goodbye, I was ready. I am happy I met them, shared their darkness, and that we reached the other side together.
I highly recommend The Seventh Victim to anyone looking for a must-listen audiobook of 2020!
You can find the book here
I would like to thank Phoebe at Midas for the amazing opportunity to listen to The Seventh Victim. This review is my unbiased opinion.
Born and bred in Sheffield, Michael worked as a freelance journalist for The Star covering crime and the courts. He is part of the CrimeSquad reviews team and is an established writer of crime fiction, including the DCI Matilda Darke series.