Today I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Mark Hill’s latest novel, It Was Her. My thanks to Millie Seaward of Little Brown for inviting me to join in and to the publishers for providing the advance copy of the book for review, Made me a very happy bunny that did. Let’s take a look at what it’s all about shall we?
About the Book
Do you want a thriller where nothing is as it seems?
Twenty years ago, Tatia was adopted into a well-off home where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.
Did she do it?
Tatia is cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Sarah. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she see families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while they are gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.
Did she kill them?
As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is threatening to destroy everything.
In case you missed it, I was quite a fan of Mark Hill’s debut novel His First Lie (previously titled The two O’Clock Boy). I loved the character of Ray Drake and the whole premise of that first novel, a delicious blend of mystery, murder and deep rooted secrets with a protagonist a little on the dark, damaged and moody side, just the way I like them. When I heard that its follow up, It Was Her, was available on Netgalley I was straight on it, ignoring all my other plans in order to read it. The question was, could this second book capture that same level of interest? Did it have the killer hook like the first book which kept me reading into the wee hours and had me all bleary eyed and barely coherent at work?
Why yes, Yes it did. Now clearly, with Ray’s past being revealed in book one, this takes on an entirely different tone and for that very reason I would recommend that you read that book first as It Was Her contains significant spoilers for its predecessor which will ruin the reading experience if done the other way around. That said, if you do pick this one up first then you will know what is going on as there is enough recap for the uninitiated and the main bulk of the story, that of Tatia and her family, is very much a self contained story. Family secrets abound in this one and the twist in this tale, much like book one, is to separate fact from fiction – to determine the true cause of the evil within the book. Just where and with whom does the true fault lie.
The central theme then? Well our protagonist, Ray Drake, is called to the scene of a brutal murder. A couple, just freshly returned from a wonderful holiday, struck down in their home in an apparent home invasion. He is back working alongside Flick Crowley, both having recovered from injuries sustained in the previous investigation, but with their partnership, their friendship, changed irrevocably, adding a delightful layer of mistrust and uncertainty to the pairing. Can they overcome their differences in order to work together to solve the murders? Only time, and around about 400 fabulous pages, will tell.
Now this is a very complex story and not only are we faced with the murders in the present day, but also segments which take up back into Tatia’s past, memories from her adoptive bother Joel. Joel is a fragile and damaged young man but we don’t know quite why, what it is that has happened that has affected him so badly. Compare the both of them to their other sister, Sarah, and you have quite an unusual family dynamic. Troubled and disturbing, it certainly captured the imagination and the way in which the three interact, the trepidation they feel when finally reunited set me, as a reader, on edge. You know this is a situation where anything can happen and given the level of violence which has already occurred, I was waiting with bated breath to see where it may lead.
The main story is tense, thrilling, dark and twisted but oh … I do love Ray Drake. There is something about him, a darker, more dangerous side than the one he shows his colleagues, which just makes him a perfect hero for me. It is on full display throughout this book, the uncertainty of his position leading to his darker side taking control on more than one occasion. And with good cause it appears as not only does he have to worry about the breakdown in his friendship with Flick, but it now appears someone else is on his case too.
I love the way in which Mark Hill played the situation between Flick and Ray. Flick is a highly principled officer but her loyalty to Ray leaves her truly conflicted by what she knows. It makes for some great scenes between the two, conflict but also acceptance. I like that Flick gets to let her hair down a bit with a fellow ‘patient’ from her therapist, but from the very beginning I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of ‘what the heck are you thinking Flick’, and if, when, you read the book, then I think you’ll know why,
And then those dying chapters, where everything is brought to a head. Tense action, an emotional confrontation and scenes which will bring the team right to the very edge, quite literally as it happens. When the full story is revealed I wasn’t completely blindsided, not like I had been in book one, but it was a very fitting end, skilfully played. And that very last scene. The threat, the promise. The agonising bloody wait for book three.
Dark, tense, twisted and totally satisfying. Nice one Mr Hill. More please.
It Was Her is available now from the following retailers:
About the Author
Mark Hill is a London-based full-time writer of novels and scripts. Formerly he was a journalist and a producer at BBC Radio 2 across a range of major daytime shows and projects. He has won two Sony Gold Awards.
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