Released: January 2015
The Life I Left Behind is Colette McBeth’s second novel and it’s another psychological crime drama (her first, Precious Thing, was published in 2013).
The narrative is given by three characters. First there’s the protagonist Melody who, following an attack several years ago, has become a claustrophobic recluse afraid to leave the house alone, although she does her best to conceal it. The man who was tried and convicted of her attack, David, has recently been released from prison and now another woman, Eve, has been attacked in similar circumstances, although this time she wasn’t left for dead, she is dead.
Eve wants to warn Mel that she is still in danger and offers a second point of view to the story. The third narrative comes from DCI Victoria Rutter who’s investigating the new crime and in doing so begins to realise that mistakes may have been made first time around.
Although Melody is seemingly living a life of luxury with her fiancée Sam, it soon becomes apparent that they’re living a sham. Melody is not as happy as she tries to pretend, nor is Sam the loving partner he appears to be.
Despite knowing who the killer is, Eve still manages to build drama and suspense as she tells how she investigated the case against the wrongly convicted David and tried to prove his innocence. Understandably, Melody has been left full of anguish and fear following the attack but I found her constant insecurity irritating.
DCI Rutter on the other hand seemed the most believable character and I found her story the more compelling as she starts to unravel the failures in the previous investigation. In fact I would’ve liked to find out more about what happened to her in the aftermath.
As with all psychological thrillers the plot twists and turns unpredictably and it does take a while to establish the characters and what drives them. Having said that, the second half of the book was a lot pacier than the first so it is worth persevering with the story.
I liked the fact that the women truly were the main focus of the book rather than the murderer or the wrongly convicted David, but I found that the constantly voiced internal dilemmas of the three narrators slowed the pace of the plot. It would have been good to have more of a resolution in the end, particularly for DCI Rutter, and perhaps less switching between view points.
If you’re a fan of McBeth’s Precious Thing and crime/mystery is your preferred genre, you’re likely to enjoy The Life I Left Behind.