BR: ‘Good Girls Don’t Die’ by Isabelle Grey

This novel centres around the experiences of Detective Sergeant Grace Fisher as she makes a fresh start in Colchester after being humiliatingly driven away from her previous job. She is thrown in at the deep end as shortly after one girl goes missing, another is found dead and left obscenely posed on a pile of rubble. Grace must battle with her own insecurities and the pain of the past as she struggles to deal with a case which seems to lead her round in circles. This was a real page-turner; the tension did not flag for a moment and I finished it in two days.

At a workshop I once attended, the writer leading the session stressed that the key to writing a good crime novel was continually throwing up new questions, all of which must eventually find some sort of resolution. This is exactly what Grey did, and she achieved it with skill and ease; there was always a pressing reason to keep reading. Even though there were only a few suspects, the final reveal of the murderer’s identity was satisfying and also haunting; in some ways I felt sorry for him.

Another good thing about the novel was its originality; it was about more than just a crime. Grey delved deep into the conflict between freedom of the press and law and order, which raised some interesting questions. As well as this, Grace had no love interest but there was a strong focus on friendship, which made a refreshing change. The fact that it was set in Colchester, a town I am familiar with, made everything even more vivid and fresh for me.

The characters were all believable and interesting and I think Grey did a great job with describing their appearances, picking out certain identifiable details which stuck in the reader’s mind. Grace was mostly likeable but at times I felt that she slipped perilously close to being a Mary Sue, for example when amoral reporter Ivo Sweatman thinks, ‘Perhaps the impression of aloofness she gave came from being totally unconscious of her own loveliness.’

My main issue with the book, however, was the number of glaring typos; I don’t understand how the editor failed to spot that many. The writing could also be clumsy in parts – take, for example, the end of the first chapter: ‘Only one person could help her now. Her.’ 

Nonetheless, I enjoyed ‘Good Girls Don’t Die’ very much and would recommend it as an exciting and compelling read.

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