Sharon Bolton's latest stand-alone novel Daisy in Chains is gripping. It tackles some interesting subjects: fat-shaming, women who fall in love with convicted murderers, and lawyers who specialize in over-turning convictions, concerned less with guilt or innocence and more with technical flaws in the case.
The handsome and arrogant Hamish Wolfe has been convicted of murdering three women. He continues to maintain his innocence, but the evidence against him was solid, and the hope of over-turning his conviction is bleak.
Hamish has been in prison for two years, but he believes that if he can persuade Maggie Rose, a lawyer who has successfully overturned several convictions, to take his case--he has a chance or returning to his previous life as a respected doctor.
Maggie turns down letters requesting a visit, turns down his mother's appeal to her, and refuses to visit him in prison. When DI Peter Weston, the detective responsible for convicting Hamish, approaches her and tries to discourage her from any further interest in Wolfe, the effort appears to have unintended consequences. Maggie becomes more intrigued with the case.
In spite of having different goals, Weston and Maggie develop a kind of friendship. When someone enters her home--rearranging things just enough to let her know someone has been there--and begins leaving threatening text messages on her phone, Weston is concerned and protective.
Maggie's fame as a lawyer and true-crime writer, her reclusive life-style, and her blue hair all seem to be at odds, but her intelligence is never in question.
Hamish woos her. Maggie's curiosity about the case grows.
Throughout most of the novel, I was riveted. The way Weston and Maggie worked together fascinated me. Maggie's intense interest in Hamish made me uneasy.
While clues about Hamish's shameful student behavior, his "love affair" through letters with one of the women writing him, Maggie's efforts at uncovering the truth, engrossed me...I was uncertain about whom to trust. Bolton keeps you off-balance through most of the novel, and you will wonder who is being manipulated.
Unfortunately, the conclusion (for me) was too far-fetched. I had picked up on some of the clues early, but was still surprised at the elaborate and complicated methodology of the set-up which is unraveled at the end. At that point, I was unable to suspend my disbelief.
I've read almost all of Bolton's books and this one has all of the anxiety and apprehension of previous books. However, the extravagant complexity of the conclusion spoiled my pleasure in the earlier chapters. I was not surprised by the solution, toward the end Bolton leaves plenty of clues, but I was disappointed that I was unable to believe in the charade of earlier incidents.
Nevertheless, this book will be a winner with all of Bolton's fans. The middle of the book is worth it for its suspenseful tension and for the way Bolton pulls you into the lives of DI Pete Weston, Maggie Rose, and Hamish Wolfe.
Read in August. Blog review scheduled for Sept. 9.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Mystery/Suspense. Sept. 20, 2016. Print length: 352 pages.