Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi

It looks like 2015 is set to be the year of psychological crime. Strong female leads, dark trips down memory lane and emotionally fraught tales where danger is lurking round every corner.

The lead in this brave debut is Evie Jones, whose best friend was murdered when she was eleven years old. The named suspect was never apprehended and the case was left unsolved.

Years later, Evie is now a budding crime reporter and what starts as routine research leads her into the unsolved murder case of her childhood friend.

The deeper she delves, the more obsessed she becomes. Not only does her investigation dredge up long lost fragments of her past, but also that of her family and close friend David, who worries that the depraved details of the investigation is affecting her.

Evie has noticed a man watching her from her balcony at night which freaks her out to say the least, but with all the horrific crime cases she is researching and the anxiety of living alone; is the watcher just a figment of her overactive imagination or a very real threat to be wary of?

This is a dark story from start to finish. Set in wintery Canada, the whole setting seemed to be portrayed in shades of grey, from Evie’s childhood memories, right through to her current investigative existence. Her character was hard for me to identify with as a lead. On the one hand she was strong willed, determined and clever which I liked. But on the other hand she was reckless, emotional and fickle which were all traits that I did not enjoy so much, although necessary to throw her into certain situations in the story.

The way the prose was written was different, with no speech marks to clearly indicate who was saying what, but I kind of liked it. It made me concentrate more on what was being said. I also liked that it was set in the 80s and 90s. If it had been set now, the influence of mobile technology and the availability of internet would have made this a hugely different story and definitely would have decreased the atmosphere.

The prose is heavily descriptive outside of the speech, and wonderfully atmospheric. The author has a great way of building up the tension and it was this that kept me reading. A great debut from a crime author that I’m sure will be one to watch out for in the future.

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