>Ruth Dugdall, The Woman Before Me (2010)

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This British thriller is a debut.

We enter this story when Rose Wilks´ newborn baby dies, and Emma Hatchet´s boy lives. After the tragedy, Rose keeps in close contact with Emma who is the ex-wife of Rose´s lover, Jason. She babysits little Luke as often as his parents will let her, and she even begins breast-feeding him and sneaking into the house behind Emma´s back. So when Luke dies in a fire which started during one of the nights that Rose used her copy of the kitchen door key, she ends up in court, accused of murder.

In between Rose´s first-person narration in the form of a diary, we meet Cate Austin, a brand-new probation officer in Bishop´s Hill Prison. Rose Wilks is her very first case so Cate has to make up her mind whether Rose is ready for parole or not after four years in prison. She speaks to Rose, to Luke´s father Jason as well as Emma and her husband Dominic, and piece by piece the reader gets the full story of what happened when Luke died.

Important themes of the story are love, obsession and jealousy, and even though the novel is written in the present tense, I was absorbed by it immediately. The characters are well-drawn and the pace is fine. It is also a good thing that the main character, Rose Wilks, is neither white nor black, but occasionally I found her behaviour unrealistic.

Nevertheless I am impressed by this very fine debut, and I hope there will be more books from Dugdall´s hand soon. Maxine was kind enough to send me the book when she had reviewed it, and I did not let it gather much dust on my shelf.

Maxine´s review
Ruth Dugdall´s blog.

About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
This entry was posted in British, debut, review, Ruth Dugdall. Bookmark the permalink.

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