Thursday 30 October 2014

The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth

She's dead but she's the only one who knows what really happened; 

What your friends have said.

What the police missed.

Who attacked you.

So if you want the truth who else are you going to turn to?

You think you know people: Colette McBeth tells you what you don't know...

Published in ebook on 1 January 2015, and hardback on 24 February 2015 by Headline, The Life I Left Behind is Colette McBeth's second novel.  I reviewed her first; Precious Thing, here on Random Things in April of this year.

The Life I Left Behind is another psychological thriller, with a dark, twisty-turny plot narrated by characters who are both alive, and dead.

Eve has been murdered, and begins the story as her body is discovered. This discovery turns Melody's world upside down. She too was attacked by the same man, and left for dead, and the years since then have been hard. Afraid to leave the house, questioning herself and her relationships, the news that he has struck again is enough to tip her over the edge. The third narrator is DI Victoria Rutter, in charge of the investigation and part of the original prosecution; she too will question and wonder.

Don't expect to like the characters, I'm not sure that the author intends the reader to fall in love with them, I certainly didn't. Eve and Melody are intriguing though, and as Melody's life story unfolds, with flashbacks to the woman she was before the attack, I began to dislike her more and more, yet I was intrigued by her story and desperate to get to the bottom of the mystery.

This is what Colette McBeth does best; create mystery and tension. This is a very clever story, with the three viewpoints emerging at the same time, changing the reader's viewpoint, altering the emphasis and controlling the plot incredibly well. Having a dead narrator is not a new or unique selling point for a novel, in fact, for me it was a little off putting, as I'm one of the few people that hated Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, and I have no doubt that this will be compared (unfairly) with that novel. I'd advise readers to discard any preconceptions, any comparisons, and read The Life I Left Behind with fresh eyes, and enjoy it. I really did.

Colette McBeth was a BBC TV News Correspondent for ten years. She lives in West London with her husband and three young children.  She attended the Faber Academy Novel Writing Course in 2011. Her first novel, Precious Thing, was published in 2013.

For more information about the author and her writing, visit her website, check out her Facebook Author Page  or follow her on Twitter @colettemcbeth


  1. Anne, you've sold it to me. Great review, as always. Thanks for sharing.

  2. So keen to read this, thanks for your great review Anne