Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the latest DCI Sheens thriller form Gytha Lodge, Lie Beside Me. I was a little late to starting this series but I was hooked straight away so am very thankful to publisher Michael Joseph for the advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
You wake up.
You can’t remember what happened.
The man lying next to you is not your husband.
And he’s not breathing . . .
Louise wakes up. Her head aches, her mouth is dry, her memory is fuzzy. But she suspects she’s done something bad.
She rolls over towards her husband, Niall.
But it’s not Niall who’s lying beside her. In fact, she’s never seen this man before.
And he’s dead . . .
As Louise desperately struggles to piece her memories back together, Detective Jonah Sheens and his team mark her as their prime suspect.
But she’s not the only one with something to hide . . .
Did she do it?
And, if not, can they catch the real killer before they strike again?
Well this is a book that certainly made me think. It is clear from very early on that something is amiss, especially when you consider that, as readers, we have a very different introduction to the victim than DCI Jonah Sheens and his team. but what starts out as a seemingly elaborate and reputation saving mistruth, turns into something far more sinister and twisted as the story goes on.
Told from two perspectives, a first person narrative from the story’s main suspect, Louise Reakes, and a third person view of the police investigation, we are always kept one step ahead of the investigation, but only to a certain degree. Louise has massive holes in her recollection of the fateful night and these are the gaps that we, and the police as so desperately keen to plug as we move through the story. Full of mystery and leaving me with more questions that there were immediate answers to, I was drawn into the story and kept intrigued to the very last page.
I must admit that I had mixed feelings about Louise. On one hand she comes across as a drunk and a bit of an idiot, but on another, the more we learn about her, the more you feel that there is a certain amount of naivety about her, an innocence which her drunken antics do not entirely mask, and I did feel a kind of sympathy for her position. Gytha Lodge has played her character just right, keeping readers on edge and not fully sure of where she is coming from, what she is hiding, but never quite so much as to make her wholly unlikable.
There are a strong cast of characters that circle the investigation, from Louise best friend, Amber, to her husband Niall, even to the victim and his partner, all of whom are seemingly duplicitous and make it hard to know just who can be trusted. Each of their stories and their behaviours lead the police on a diversion from the truth, and that sense that anyone could ultimately be guilty adds to the tension of the overall story. Ultimately it is a very familiar tale, but told with skill so that the truth is not always obvious.
It is not just the case in this book that is key in this story and I found it interesting to learn more about Hanson and her past, seeing the impact of a former relationship on her nerves and her behaviour, and also in seeing how her friends and colleagues responded to it. It enhances rather than detracts from the story and is handled sympathetically being, as it is, a very difficult story of its own. The whole thing spoke of the trust, or lack thereof, between the colleagues and helped me get a better measure of all of them.
With a strong police team taking the investigative helm, a gripping mystery at its heart, plenty of questions and ample misdirection, and a tense showdown that kept me turning the final pages at speed, fans of the series are going to love it.
About the Author
Gytha Lodge is a writer and multi-award-winning playwright who lives in Cambridge. After studying creative writing at UEA, she was shortlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize and the Arts’ Council England fiction awards, and developed a large online following for her young adult and children’s writing, with over seven million reads accrued on platform Wattpad. She Lies in Wait, her debut novel, was a Richard & Judy Book Club Pick.