Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Brilliant!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

daisy in chainsHamish Wolfe is a prisoner, convicted of the murders of three young women. Maggie Rose is a defence barrister and author of several books regarding possible miscarriages of justice, some of which have resulted in the convicted men being released. Hamish and his little group of supporters on the outside are keen to get Maggie to take on his case. Pete Weston owes his promotion to Detective Sergeant to his success in catching Hamish, and he’s adamant that no mistakes were made.

This is Sharon Bolton at her twisty, twisted best, and her best is pretty brilliant! Told in the third person, we’re only allowed brief glimpses into the mind of each of these three main characters, so we’re never quite sure who’s telling the truth. But we’re pretty sure from early on that each one is hiding something.

Hamish is a charming, exceedingly handsome and intelligent young man, so he has even more than the usual quota of strange women declaring their love for him despite, or perhaps because of, his convictions. But is he guilty? The evidence looks pretty solid but he’s always insisted he’s innocent and there are plenty of people who are willing to believe him. Pete seems like one of that rare breed (in fiction) – an honest hard-working cop who sticks to the rules. But as Maggie begins to delve into the case it does begin to look as if coincidence played a pretty big part in his original investigation. And what is Maggie’s motivation for getting murderers released from prison? She claims it’s not about guilt or innocence but about whether they got fair treatment under the law – a moral standpoint, if true…

Bolton’s skill is not just in the plotting, great though that is. Where she really excels is in setting up an atmosphere of growing tension and dread, always helped by the settings she chooses. Her last couple of Lacey Flint books have made us all see the Thames in a new and sinister light, and in this standalone she uses the caves and tunnels beneath the Somerset coast to brilliant effect. Her descriptive writing is fabulous – the lowering snow clouds, freezing cold and short dark days all adding beautifully to a scary sense of creepiness and fear. But there’s a healthy dose of humour which prevents the book from becoming too dark, meaning that it’s a truly enjoyable read even while it’s deliciously tingling the reader’s spine.

Sharon Bolton (amazon.co.uk)
Sharon Bolton

As well as the three main players, there’s a small host of quirky secondary characters, most of them part of the little group campaigning for Hamish’s release. Bolton does address a couple of serious issues – the way some people are drawn to notorious, violent killers for all sorts of reasons, some saner than others, and how society sees and reacts to fat people (all of the victims were fat women). But she does it with a light touch so that it never feels like she’s grinding an axe or thumping a tub – she is observing rather than judging.

It’s a strange thing that sometimes the best books are the ones that require to have the least said about them. The joy of this one is in being lead so skilfully through all the various twists, constantly having to reassess one’s opinion of the leading characters as each new piece is added, so I don’t want to reveal too much. I’ll simply say that in reading over my short notes made while reading I see I’ve used the word ‘brilliant’ no less than nine times, with a couple of fabulouses thrown in for good measure, and I’ve already made space for this one in my Book of the Year roundup. (It could easily also win best title and best cover.) In case I haven’t made myself clear – highly recommended! In fact, brilliant!!

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House Transworld.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

55 thoughts on “Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

  1. I keep hearing such great things about this one, FictionFan. And of I’m not surprised. I think Bolton does a fabulous job of creating believable characters who may or may not be trustworthy. And her plot twists are so neatly done, aren’t they? So glad you liked this as much as you did.

    • She really is one of the best out there right now, and this is one of her best books! I love that she keeps it from getting too grim by using a bit of humour, and manages to keep the thing feeling kinda credible despite all the twists and turns. I’ll say it again – brilliant! 🙂

  2. A bookish friend with great taste has recommended her to me before, but I have yet to read her. Sounds like I need to move her up the TBR! Great review!

    • Definitely great taste! She’s one of my three contemporary Queens of Crime, along with Jane Casey and Belinda Bauer. Never miss one of their books and they’re nearly always guaranteed a high recommendation from me… enjoy! 😀

  3. I totally agree with every word – this is up there with the best, not just of the year either. I loved everything about this book, as you say it is helped by the sly humour and the characters were fab. Even better that it had such a wonderful cover too. Great review of a ‘brilliant’ book!

    • You’re right – this one will last longer than a year! When she’s on top form (and she usually is), I don’t think there’s anyone who can beat her – I love that the books have enough humour to keep them kinda light, and yet she gets that tension going beautifully. Brilliant! 😉

  4. 9 BRILLIANTS! 2 FABULOUSES! Oh my….I need to sit down and have a piece of chocolate: the bar I just purchased includes espresso beans and cacao nibs. May need to consume all 85 grams before I’m calm enough to head to my bookstore.

    But wait! I don’t usually go for crime stories. Sorry, was momentarily overcome by BRILLIANTS and FABULOUSES…may still eat the chocolate…

  5. Another one I haven’t read yet — and doggone it, it sounds so fantastic that I guess it will have to go on my TBR. Rats and a heifer!

    • Haha! I haven’t seen a negative review of this one yet, so I really think you must read it! Despite all the murders, it’s very entertaining… 😉

  6. I just finished reading this book yesterday and haven’t had time to put my review together yet, but I agree with everything you’ve said about it. I don’t often read contemporary crime, but I love Sharon Bolton!

    • She’s a great writer, isn’t she? Her stories are always so original and I just love the way she sets up an atmosphere – and yet uses humour to keep it entertaining. Glad you enjoyed it too – I’ll look forward to reading your review. 🙂

    • I know – her plots are always so original and she has the writing skills to make them into great books! Haha – definitely brilliant! And you definitely must!

    • She’s one of the few writers whose books I never miss – really stands out in a genre that’s way too full of mediocre stuff! And her use of humour means her books are always entertaining – something a lot of crime writers seem to have forgotten recently…

  7. It’s funny that you mention a by-the-rule-book police officer. I am so much for justice applied to all equally that it gets in my way sometimes (like I obsess over people not being punished). Serving justice is one of the reasons I LOVE the movie Hot Fuzz 😀

    • I do like my police officers to pretty much work within the system and I’m a big fun of the baddie getting caught. I get very grumpy when the detective does things that in real life would result in cases being thrown out of court, or uses violence to intimidate suspects etc. I guess you could say I’m a police procedural pedant… 😉

  8. Wow! This sounds great! Love the title as well. Fascinating subject. I can’t help thinking of Ted Bundy.

    I agree that the best books require the least explanation!

  9. This title is next on my TBR for review. My favorite title last year was “Little Black Lies” by Sharon Bolton, so I have high expectations. Love her work!

    • Ooh, I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Personally, I think it’s better than Little Black Lies – this one is more twisty but also more credible, I think! She’s fantastic – I never miss one of her books now. 😀

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