Friday 5 June 2020

Before I Say I Do by Vicki Bradley #RandomThingsTours BLOG TOUR @vbradleywriter @simonandschusterUK #BeforeISayIDo

It’s Julia’s wedding day. Her nerves are to be expected – every bride feels the same – but there’s another layer to her fear, one that she cannot explain to her soon-to-be husband, Mark. She’s never told him the details – and she is determined he never finds out.

As she begins down the aisle, spotting Mark in his tailored suit, she knows she is taking her first steps to happiness – her past is behind her, it can’t catch her now. Mark turns to face her . . .

But it isn’t Mark in the beautiful suit – it’s his best man.

Because Mark is missing.  

And Julia’s past is closer than she thinks . . .

Before I Say I Do by Vicki Bradley was published on 28 May 2020 by Simon & Schuster and is the author's debut novel. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

I was instantly drawn to this book, by the cover and the really tempting blurb, and I do love to discover a new author. Vicki Bradley is certainly one to watch, she's a detective in the British Police force, currently taking a career break, and this is so obvious in her writing. The police procedure throughout this novel is precise and sharp and has such a feel of authenticity.

The story begins on Sunday. It's Julia Talbot's wedding day and she is experiencing the usual nerves, trepidation, elation and fear that most brides feel as they are about to walk down the aisle. Julia's parents are not with her, she's accompanied by her bridesmaid Lucy who has been her best friend for many years. 
However, when Julia makes her entrance to her own wedding, on what should be the most important day of her life, she didn't ever anticipate this.   Her groom, Mark, is missing.  He's been missing since yesterday, his best man doesn't know where he is, nobody has heard from him. Julia's dream day has turned into a nightmare.

Julia's first person narration is accompanied by, in separate chapters, Alana Loxton's story. Alana has just survived her first week as an officer at Southwark borough CID, after leaving the Murder Squad under something of a cloud. Little does she know that her biggest and most complex case is just beginning.

I really liked the structure of this novel. Having two female lead characters; one telling her own story, and one told in the third-person was really fresh, and for me, only made my reading experience better. The reader goes from one woman to the other, both of them dealing with the same situation, but both of them having very different views on it.

Julia and Alana both have a lot to cover up in their background, and the reader knows this, but has no idea of why. What begins as a pretty average case of a missing person, soon becomes more sinister as the police, and Julia discovers things in Mark's life that are serious and have been hidden. Missing money and burner phones found hidden in his room leads the investigation down a long and very twisted path. 

This author's character creation is excellent. Both Julie and Alana are crafted with skill and care; and the reader may not like both of them, but they really do get under the skin. There's a real sense of 'just one more page' when you read this book, and this may become a little frenzied towards the end as the tension builds before the final reveal. 

Clever, tense, twisty and gripping. What more could you ask for?  Recommended by me.

Vicki Bradley is the author of the psychological thriller, BEFORE I SAY I DO, published 28th May 2020.

She completed a Creative Writing Novel MA at City University of London in 2016. She won the Write Here Right Now competition 2018, came 3rd place in the First Novel Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Virago New Crime Writer and Peter Fraser Dunlop prize with her debut novel BEFORE I SAY I DO.

Vicki is a detective constable in the Metropolitan Police Service and has had a varied career as a uniformed response driver in Brent and then as a detective in Southwark CID. She has managed High-Risk Sex Offenders and worked on the Serious Organised Crime Command. She is currently on a 5-year career break while she focuses on writing.

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