The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth
Published by Headline Review
1st January 2015
She's dead but she's the only one who knows what really happened;
What your friends have said.
What the police missed.
Who attacked you.
So if you want the truth who else are you going to turn to?
Five years ago Melody Pieterson was attacked and left for dead.
She coped by burying the person she was, locking away her memories and creating a new life for herself. Her attacker is behind bars. In four weeks' time she will get married. She's almost normal.
Then the body of another woman is found, close to where Melody was discovered. Like her she has blond hair and green eyes. Like Melody police find a gold bird cage necklace at the scene. And Melody realises her attacker has been out there all along.
The woman's name is Eve Elliot. Melody sets out to discover everything she can about Eve to work out why they were targeted. But the more she gets to know her the more she realises what's wrong with her own life. Eve may be dead but she's the only person who can teach Melody how to live again.
So, the book begins with the murder of a woman, her son, who has been out building forts all day comes home and finds her dead in their lounge, he spends all night with the body until his father returns home the next day. Then we move to the present day, with our dead narrator Eve. Eve has been murdered and her body found in a field by an elderly man out walking his dog. In her hands she is clutching a gold bird cage necklace. This is the only link that the police have to a previous attack on a woman, Melody Pieterson, five years beforehand. Melody was left for dead but has now recovered and is trying to live her life again. That is, until the police notify her that a murder has been committed, and that the obvious suspect is the man who was convicted of attacking Melody, her former neighbour David Alden.
Melody is trying to hold her life together, but she can't. She never really believed that David attacked her but as her memory of the night in question is still blank, she has nothing other than her instinct to go on. Then she learns that Eve was investigating her case, and that she too believed that someone else was responsible for Melody's attack. Did she find out who the killer actually was, and was that why she was killed? If that is the case, should Melody be worried that the wrong man was convicted and that the real killer is still out there, possibly looking to finish what he started five years beforehand?
I think that Colette McBeth has written a solid story here. There are three main female narratives, that of Eve, Melody and of DI Victoria Rutter who is trying to find the killer. The dead narrator concept works; Eve knows who killed her, and is trying desperately to let Melody know from beyond the grave but will she be too late? You soon learn not to trust any of the characters, as no one seems to really be telling the truth, either now or in the past. They all have something they want to hide.
This is Colete McBeth's second novel and it's a good one. If you are a fan of crime novels, this would be a good start to the year.