A L Gaylin
What Remains of Me
Paperback: 400 pages
December 1st, 2016
When is a debut novel not a debut novel? Well, clearly when it isn't a first publication but rather a book written by one of the finest crime writing talents around. Alison Gaylin is the author of the spectacularly good Brenna Spector crime series. What Remains of Me, however, is a stand alone. Hence, possibly, the change in authorial credit. What the book definitely is though is every bit as special as anything Gaylin has written before and further underlines her credentials as a "must read" novelist.
Seventeen-year-old Kelly Michelle Lund shot and killed director John McFadden at a party 30 years ago. Kelly is now living with her husband, Shane Marshall, after being released from prison five years earlier. But then her father-in-law gets shot in the same way as John McFadden and the public and police believe Kelly is behind the murder.
Engrossing from first to last, What Remains of Me is a hard-dodged observational commentary on how those in power abuse their position so that those under their spells can become embroiled in a horrifying fantasy existence.
As with all of Gaylin's previous novels, the characters are beautifully drawn. Kelly and Shane are so diametrically different it is a wonder either could share the shame airspace let alone the same marital home. Yet with this said , both fit together as psychologically damaged counterpoints to the same experiences.
Superb too are the supporting cast. Bellamy is delightfully spoiled and duplicitous, whereas Vee is more "next door" picturesque than the most well tended of herbaceous borders. Detectives Braddock and Dupree also more than deserve to have a platform of their own from which to perform, such is the depth and strength of their dynamic.
A further attribute to Gaylin's prowess is her ability to juggle superbly with fractured timelines in a manner that is neither over fussy or complicated. There are two main stories at work here - a why dunnit and a whodunnit - but separately treated, as though one belongs to the other by mere coincidence. To pull this off, the mastery of the descriptive prose and the white knuckled grip the author has on sense of both time and place that truly excels.
What Remains of Me is a remarkable novel of poise, wit, guile, charm, thrills, spills, twists, turns and so many "OMG" moments, reading it in more than one sitting is a little like being cast into a centrifuge then being asked to keep your hair tidy. Impossible.
Marvellous stuff indeed!!