Today I’m sharing my thoughts on The Death of Me by Michelle Davies which is just out in paperback. I’ve really enjoyed the author’s previous novels and so looked forward to tucking into this latest offering. I wasn’t disappointed. My thanks to publisher Orion who provided a copy of the book via Netgalley. Here’s what it’s about:
About the Book
When Isaac Naylor committed suicide after a teenage fan was found dead in his hotel room, the world thought it had lost one of the greatest rock stars of a generation. Naylor, lead singer of The Ospreys, had been arrested for causing the girl’s death and was on police bail when he drowned himself in the sea off the Devon coast, leaving two notes addressed to his bandmates and his younger brother, Toby, discarded on the beach.
Now, eight years on, music journalist Natalie Glass stumbles across a blind item on a US gossip website that suggests Naylor’s death wasn’t quite what it seemed – and he might in fact still be alive. The item claims he is the mystery songwriter who has for the past year been submitting lyrics to producers in London via his lawyer for other artists to record. He insists on anonymity and the only person who knows his identity is the lawyer.
But as she delves deeper into what happened, the plot to stop her intensifies and Natalie finds she has a stark choice: give up trying to find out what happened to Naylor or risk her own obituary ending up in print.
Oh I do love a good, twisty, thriller and this one is certainly full of mystery and misdirection, with a story that hooked. me right off the bat and kept me riveted to the very last page. Drawing on the author’s own experience as a journalist, Michelle Davies takes us right in the believably messy world of rock icon Isaac Naylor, and his band The Ospreys. Naylor’s career was rocked, and ultimately ended, by a shocking scandal, one which saw not one but two tragedies unfold. A dead groupie, Naylor missing, presumed dead – a story that legend and infamy are built on. Now if this was just about examining a case and a potential injustice from the past, it would be an entirely different kind of novel. The facts are well documented, the story a part of music history. But not everything is as it seems, and when freelance music journalist Natalie Gass gets wind of a potential scoop, she unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events with potential deadly consequences.
I really like the way in which Michelle Davies has developed the character of Natalie. She’s a character I grew to like really quickly, someone I felt a good deal of empathy towards and someone whose fate I was completely invested in from the start of the novel. She’s a mother, living from pay cheque to pay cheque, locked in bitter custody battle with her ex, and stuck in a never ending cycle of chasing potential commissions in the ever reducing field of journalism. Her chosen field, music journalism, in theory should provide a wealth of opportunity for new articles – the world is hardly bereft of music stars after all – but with the constant influx of pod-casts, vlogs and TikTok, she feels the pinch every bit as much anyone else working in traditional print media. It made her someone I rooted for, someone you wanted to catch a break. It also made her fascination with the Isaac Naylor story very believable, even her determination to see the story through to the bitter end when it was clear that the repercussions could be of the most dire kind.
From the very beginning of the book you have that immediate hook. That sense of threat and fear is rife from the off, a strong prologue capturing my attention and making me wonder quite what our protagonist could have done to put herself in such a precarious position. That sense of unease continues to bubble throughout, some moments where the threat is move overt and quite literally on occasion, in her face. Then there are other scenes where there is just a sense of enduring unease, little tricks designed to unsettle Natalie which only serve to heighten my interest and increase the mystery.
The back story – a musician living to excess whose lifestyle ends in the ultimate kind of tragedy – really rings true. We’ve all seen the reports, the explosive revelations about the lifestyles of the rich and famous who use their power and fame to use and abuse, and the people who are all too willing to play along with it. The question really is over whether that was the case with Isaac Naylor. Some say yes, others no. And that polarisation of the public – the die hard fans who defend the star to the end v the masses equally intent on condemnation – has a real ring of truth to it. It’s a mystery within a mystery that really keeps readers guessing.
This is the kind of story where, aside from Natalie, I struggled to really trust anyone that she met. Everyone seemed to have an agenda, or at the very least to be holding back on the truth. There were so many moments of misdirection that the suspense was heightened and this was part of what kept me so glued to the page. I did kind of guess one element of the book, but there are so many secrets to uncover that it only made me enjoy the book more that my guess turned out to be correct. The author really sets the scene perfectly, from the
With a brilliant blend of authentic storytelling and dialogue, a mystery that just drew me in and that ongoing tension which builds from the start to a fast paced and almost shocking conclusion. So many chilling moment, subtle scenes and simple but effective acts of intimidation that get the hackles rising far more than some over the top action scene might. This is yet another winning tale from an author whose work I am coming to enjoying more and more with every book. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Michelle Davies was born in Middlesex, raised in Buckinghamshire and now lives in north London.
When she’s not turning her hand to crime, Michelle writes as a freelance journalist for women’s magazines including Marie Claire, Essentials, YOU and Stylist. Her last staff job before going freelance was as Editor-at-Large at Grazia and she was previously Features Editor at heat. She began her career straight from school at 18, working as a trainee reporter on her hometown newspaper, the Bucks Free Press.