A SINNER’S GIFT
Standing in the dim light, with the clouds threatening to break over the hills, hopes of a fresh start are fast becoming a distant memory.
Death is a part of him. He can’t escape it.
The scene before him is haunting, beautiful somehow. The remnants of the day just gone still linger in the sky, offering a final breath of light before the corpse turns to black shadow and the landscape claims the soul of a broken man.
A textbook suicide.
The evidence is there in front of him. But as Toop digs deeper he finds himself caught in a web of buried truths.
Only one thing remains certain: Not even the dead can keep their secrets.
She has a Master’s degree in International Relations and Arabic and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education.
A Sinner’s Gift is her first novel, and a book that has been inspired by her love of the mountains and their secrets.
“It’s a funny thing, being a first time author. You come to the realisation that, come publication day, you are willingly putting yourself out there, a naïve and enthusiastic lamb to the slaughter. Hoping, with every fibre of your being, that people will like what you have done. That you are good enough.”
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“Sir?” He hesitated, nervous. “Did you hear me?” Fergus Toop grabbed for his jacket. “Don’t touch anything. I’ll be twenty minutes.” Without waiting for a reply, Toop chucked the phone onto the couch and headed out of the door”
“Jon took a step back, then another one, putting distance between himself and the body. The vomit rose in his throat. Bitter. He crouched down towards the floor, his knees failing him as he sank into a defeated ball. Sickened. A clear bile released from his small intestine and the muscles in his stomach tightened, inducing a wave of violent contractions. He hung his head to the side of his knees, retching repeatedly as the spasms gripped his body, reducing him to a shivering mass. His voice remained trapped in his chest”
“In seeking revenge you must dig two graves – one for yourself”
Wow! Where to begin with this one!
A story in two parts and timelines, the late 1980s and the present day. Written in alternating chapters, well signed, sharp, short and punchy, making dipping in and out of the story very easy and uncomplicated for those of us who have to snatch those few odd moments with a book.
The link which joins the timelines together however, is complicated, volatile and full of twists and turns. Vengeance and revenge are very much on the agenda, although the sum total of individual crimes which go to make up the whole end game, are multitudinous, warped and often sickening in their nature.
Leaving Toop and his team aside, the characters and players in this story of depravation, are all well defined, although are almost all totally reprehensible and unlikable. Zoe has done a fantastic job of really making the skin of the reader literally crawl, as the sheer scale of the depths to which they will plunge in order to conceal the facts, is revealed, layer by layer.
The main protagonist, Officer Fergus Toop, is clearly a broken man, who despite everyone’s best efforts, including his own, appears to be damaged beyond repair. He has suffered a tragedy in his personal life from which he cannot move on, and it almost seems as though he is operating in self-destruct mode.
I do hope that Zoe writes another chapter in Toop’s life, just so that I can satisfy myself that he is surviving and has allowed Sally, the pathologist and his long-term friend, to help him try and make sense of things and begin the healing process. It would also be good to see how Toop shapes up as a police officer in further episodes, as for my money he wasn’t really very objective in this case. He rather took his eye off the ball and should have been able to spot the clues much earlier, even though the outcomes may not have been substantially altered.
Zoe observes that “You can take the cop out of London, but you can’t take London out of the cop”, however I think that right now this dour Scotsman’s mood is more suited to his native barren highlands, than it would be to a vibrant London scene. I think that Toop might be a new force to be reckoned within the genre of police procedural fiction, if only he can overcome his guilt and grief and begin working with the members of his team, rather than pushing them away and going maverick!
Zoe once asked my thoughts as to whether she should make her writing a little more literary and descriptive, however at that time I could only base my opinion purely on the length of the completed book, as I had yet to read it for myself. Now perhaps I might be so bold as to reaffirm what I had first assumed…
Whilst I really enjoy descriptive narrative and dialogue, with well developed characters, if the book in question is a psychological thriller, it ultimately does need to keep moving along at a brisk enough pace to allow the story to flow and keep me engaged. If on the other hand, the book is designated as a work of literary fiction, then the descriptive qualities of the story are all important and a slow burning storyline is totally acceptable and often even desirable.
A Sinner’s Gift , whilst still on my favourites list, did fall between both camps in some respects and whilst I personally, do enjoy descriptive narrative and dialogue, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea in this style of psychological thriller.
This ARC paperback was sent to me by the publisher, AUSTIN MACAULEY. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader.
However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 5 out of 5.