Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon J. Bolton

362 pages
Publisher: Bantam Press
Reading Group Read


Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There's just one survivor.

She's seen the killer's face - but he's also seen hers. And he won't rest until he's eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she's running to where she feels safe - but it could be the most dangerous place of all... 


Ugh! This is going to be one of those reviews where I want to say and explain a lot but can’t for fear of giving too much away and spoiling the book for others.

Here’s the thing. I love a good thriller; a book that keeps me guessing, throws up a few red herrings, and manages to surprise me. And, I can’t honestly deny that Dead Woman Walking was and did all those things. It is a very well written book that almost reads itself. And it sure kept me guessing right from the start until the last revelation on the final pages. But … (and don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming).

There is, in my opinion, a difference between keeping the reader guessing and ‘lying’ to the reader. To me, as I read this story, it felt as if I was never given the information I needed to even try and figure out for myself what was going on. If there were clues as to what was really going on, they were too subtle for me, and I like to think of myself as a well versed thriller reader.

Having said all that, Dead Woman Walking was a captivating read. The story sure has an attention gripping and heartstopping start with a hot air balloon crashing from the sky, leaving only one survivor. A survivor who’s witnessed a savage attack only minutes earlier. A survivor who has been seen by the attacker, who is determined to get her and looking forward to the hunt. And from that moment forward, we are presented with a combination of unrelenting action and glimpses at the past, which, in bits and pieces, clarify the actions in the present. Not to mention that we're also witness to the police investigation, first into the crash and subsequently into the woman who has survived but appears to be on the run.

So I guess it’s fair to say that while there were quite a few moments when my gut reaction was ‘what the ever-loving-F is going on now’, when it became clear that whatever I’d thought was happening was actually not the case at all, it never discouraged me from wanting to continue reading. On the other hand I have to admit to wanting to throw the book against the wall on numerous occasions when I felt the author just wasn’t playing a fair game.

When I read a thriller or mystery I always want to be left with the feeling that I could have figured it all out for myself, if only I’d paid better attention. While I’m happy to concede that it is not impossible that I missed a clue or two along the way, I’m almost certain that no matter how much attention to detail I might have paid, the revelations in this story would (for the most part?) still have come as a complete surprise.

Of course, everything I’ve just said means that any reader who doesn’t mind being kept in the dark, and enjoys shocking and completely unexpected revelations, should adore this book.

So, in the final analysis I think my personal verdict about this book is that it was a good, but not entirely satisfying read. In terms of my rating, that translates to:

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