Monday 24 December 2018

After He Died by Michael J Malone @michaeljmalone1 @OrendaBooks #AfterHeDied #TeamOrenda

You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

After He Died by Michael J Malone was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 20 September 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I am in awe of Michael Malone's writing talent. Each one of his books have been excellent, and each one is so very different. After He Died is a combination of psychological thriller and domestic noir and is absolutely gripping.

Paula Gadd's husband Thomas is dead, he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was not quite fifty years old and they'd been married for thirty years. The marriage was strong but had been difficult at times. They struggled for money in the early years and were then rocked by the tragic death of their son Christopher who was killed by a hit and run driver.

Paula is stricken with grief, she can hardly believe that she won't see Thomas again, and although his brothers are supportive, she feels alone and bereft. The story opens at the funeral where a stranger thrusts a note into Paula's hand and whispers the words 'You need to know who your husband really was ...'

What an incredibly compelling and intriguing start to a novel! The reader is completely sucked in from herein and stays by Paula's side as she tries her best to come to terms with the knowledge that Thomas had been hiding so much from her.

This author shows such remarkable skill as he explores the effects of grief and betrayal on Paula whilst building up the tension for the reader at the same time. Paula is strong willed and intelligent but also vulnerable and trusting; she's a complicated character who the reader can't always understand but will always back.

There's a grittiness within this story that at times can be uncomfortable; the author shows the dark underbelly of the Glasgow streets, introducing characters who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Malone's strong sense of social justice shines through in his writing and as someone who has spent a career in the voluntary sector, working with the most disadvantaged people, it was refreshing to see such an insight into how ordinary people can hit rock bottom.

I absolutely raced through After He Died in one day. It is a tense and riveting story and everything I assumed at the beginning of the story was completely overturned by the end.  This is writing of the very highest level; intelligent and memorable.
Taut, chilling and completely absorbing.

Michael J. Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns' country, just a stone's throw from the great man's cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult, maybe.

He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Don't ask.

BLOOD TEARS, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge:Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a "J" to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake.

He is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website 

He can be found on twitter - @michaelJmalone1

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