After He Died by Michael J. Malone Orenda Books September 30th 2018
When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…
When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought she knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger. Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chillingreminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…
Do you really know the person you are married to, Paula reckons she did. Their marriage may not have been perfect and the distance between them edging further apart, but she knew that they still loved each other, that they could pull it all back together. But what do you do when your husband suddenly dies, and mysterious things start to happen, the silent phone calls, the unusual behaviour of friends and family as they intimate that her husband was not necessarily a good man.
Most people would curl up and swamp themselves in grief, remaining passive, but Paula was determined to discover just who her husband was. On first meeting Paula, I’m not sure I actually liked her and I don’t think she even liked herself. She appeared quite vain, a woman who enjoyed the trappings of a wealthy lifestyle and all that it brought with it. As the novel progressed, the real Paula emerged, a woman who had inner strength, and nerve, who realised that what she looked like was not more important than discovering the truth.
As in all good thrillers, the path to discovering the truth is never straightforward and Malone was particularly good at weaving a complex and at times disorienting plot. It was definitely not fast paced, but more of a slow burn, with hints and clues dropped along the way. Other characters played their part, and in particular Paula’s brother in laws. A big man with who appeared jealous of Paula and Thomas, and I just knew there was something not quite right about him and his actions. It was nice to read about Jo, the younger brother, the priest, a man who cared for Paula and looked after her, and I liked that he had his own shady secret, and was not without his flaws.
The majority of the novel may not have been fast paced but the latter parts certainly were. I think I had guessed the main culprits but certainly not the way in which their misdemeanors were revealed and it made for quite furious page turning as I raced to discover the truth.
After He Died was a dark and brooding novel, that read more like a contemporary piece of work than an outright thriller. The narrative is fantastic, the characters engaging and full of wonderful flaws, that are laid bare for the reader to see. The plot required close attention from the reader but the final reveal was deeply satisfying.
Michael J Malone is an author I have not read before but he will definitely be an author I shall read in the future.
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of After He Died to read and review and to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up
in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary
magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland
and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize
from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes:
Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The
Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a
number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines soon
followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also
worked as an IFA and a bookseller.