Of my favorite novels read in 2015, “Little Black Lies” topped the list. It would seem that Sharon Bolton is on a roll because “Daisy in Chains” will be near the top of my 2016 favorites list! Wow!Hamish Wolfe is in prison on the Isle of Wight. He is serving a life sentence for murdering three women. He is a handsome, athletic, charismatic and super intelligent physician / cancer surgeon. Though the evidence against him seems airtight, Hamish maintains he is innocent of the crimes. His notoriety has made him a sort of cult figure and he receives countless letters from women who declare their admiration and some say ‘love’ for him. As the tag line of the novel declares, “Famous killers have fan clubs”.
It was a known fact that all of the victims were quite overweight. Whilst he was at university it was rumored that Hamish dated an overweight girl named Daisy and was a member of a ‘Fat Club’. He and a group of his med student friends would date chubby girls and video their sexual exploits. Now his detractors say that as a physician he murdered the ‘fat’ girls because they were a drain on the NHS…
The women’s bodies were recovered from caves in the Mendip Hills. Hamish was an ardent caver and climber…
Maggie Rose is a celebrity lawyer and true-crime author. She is famous for getting convictions overturned. She is sought after by many, but now she is being courted by Hamish via his mother who believes in her son’s innocence.
Maggie is an enigma. Scarily smart and famous for her many achievements, she seeks no accolades and lives a solitary and reclusive existence. On the other hand, she is a petite, beautiful women who has beautiful blue eyes and hair in a striking shade of turquoise!
Curiously, though she says she lives alone, she holds conversations with someone when she is at home…
People say that Maggie doesn’t care about justice, that she only does what she does to show the world how clever she is. Maggie visits Hamish in prison several times and decides after a time to represent him as his lawyer. She has started a true crime book featuring him.
Pete Weston is a detective constable with the Avon and Somerset Police. His career was made when he put Hamish away. Now he hears that the infamous Maggie Rose might be looking into Hamish’s case. He and his superiors fear their evidence against Hamish will not pass muster, will not stand up under Maggie’s scrutiny. Pete approaches Maggie and they become reluctant friends and there seems to be an underlying attraction.
The action in the novel takes place in and around Cheddar, and Portishead, in Somerset. I particularly loved the rich setting and well developed characters. Pete Weston was one of my favorites. He has recently lost his wife and four-year old daughter to another man. Cruelly, this man, DCI Latimer, is Pete’s superior officer who he has to work with every day! His attraction to Maggie is the first he has experienced since his marriage dissolved – and it could be detrimental to his job. The timing is against them.
Maggie’s character was a puzzle, a tease, and I as a reader felt a little sorry for her self-imposed solitary life. I admired her keen intelligence. One sensed hidden depths, an interesting past, but information about her was hinted at and divulged in tiny increments which maintained interest and suspense.
To wrap up… I loved this novel. With twists and surprises, this novel was essential Sharon Bolton. I’ve loved all of her books and recommend her work to anyone who hasn’t yet read her.
I found it very interesting to read on the author’s blog that she had a photograph on her desk for several years while she wrote “Daisy in Chains”. This photograph of an unknown young woman served as her muse for Maggie Rose as is pictured above in this review.
Sharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.
Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.
Follow Sharon Bolton on Twitter @AuthorSJBolton