Luke – lost his beloved partner, Lisa, to cancer. Now he is raising Lisa’s six-year-old son Nathan on his own, with the occasional help of Lisa’s mother, Gemma. He adores the boy. Luke is an ex-con. He served time for the death of his friend Danny via careless driving. Now, he is trying to turn his life around. He has begun a therapy practice. He becomes very attracted to one of his clients, and for the first time since Lisa’s death, he feels that life just might have some happiness to offer him.
Jenna – was Danny’s girlfriend. She left him when the relationship became too smothering. Danny wanted all of her and wouldn’t let her out of his sight. Now years later, she is remorseful about the part she played in Danny’s passing. She had told him she was leaving him shortly before his death. Now, Jenna goes to Luke’s therapy practice to sort out her thoughts. There is an immediate attraction between them, so she only has one session before they start to date instead.
Jamie – Danny’s younger brother, was just five years old when his brother died. Shortly after, both his parents were killed as well. Jamie was put into care with a foster couple who showed him no affection and emotionally abused him throughout his life. He was made to feel worthless and unloved.
Amanda – Danny’s younger sister, was put into care at age twelve. She clawed her way up by marrying her foster father after her foster mother died. Now, still in her twenties, she is a widow and owns a large house in a well-to-do area of Glasgow. Amanda is overwhelmed with hate and resentment about how her life has turned out. She blames Luke and Jenna for what happened to her older brother Danny. She seeks revenge and wants them to ‘pay’ for what they did. She engineers an elaborate scheme to exact her retribution.
Danny (deceased) – was a morally bankrupt hoodlum. He grew up on the wrong side of town and, true to form, followed the example of his neighbours and peers. He was a ‘friend’ of Luke’s when they were teenagers. When Luke made a terrible mistake, Danny held it over him as leverage… Leverage to keep Luke under Danny’s control.
This is not my first Michael J. Malone novel and I have come to expect quality writing and an intense reading experience. One again, I was not disappointed.
“Quicksand of Memory” is a novel about how toxic it is to seek retribution for past wrongs – whether perceived or actual wrongs – it makes no difference. Like guilt, which is also featured prominently in this novel, revengeful feelings can eat away at the psyche.
I loved the title. It speaks so descriptively about how memories can suck you in. How they can make the present seem almost superficial when the memories are either very bad, or very good. The book also emphasizes how memories can be distorted by personal experience. How two different people can have differing memories of the same event.
I was less fond of how there were two character names in the book that were so similar. Jenna and Gemma. Surely another, less similar name could have been found?
This is a psychological thriller that features some deeply flawed characters who for reasons of their own, think they can overcome the past. The writing was compelling and the plot was interesting.
Recommended to those readers who prefer empathetic, character-driven thrillers.
4.5 stars rounded up for Amazon
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Orenda Books via Anne Cater and Random Things Tours.
ISBN:9781913193966 — ASIN: B0983YT9ZK— 300 pages
Michael J. 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 and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr, Scotland.