Thursday 22 February 2024

Deadly Animals by Marie Tierney BLOG TOUR #DeadlyAnimals #MarieTierney @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #BookReview


Thirteen-year-old Ava Bonney possesses an unusual intellect far beyond her years. While her friends play, Ava's fascination lies in the intricate process of animal decomposition, studying roadkill found in the streets around her home.

But, one night, Ava's secret nocturnal routine takes a chilling turn when she stumbles upon the lifeless body of fellow schoolmate, Mickey Grant.

As Detective Seth Delahaye takes charge of the perplexing case, Ava refuses to sit idle. Determined and resourceful, she embarks on a daring quest to unveil the truth behind the string of chilling deaths plaguing her community.

Armed with her unique skills and unrivalled local knowledge, Ava becomes an unlikely force in the race to apprehend the elusive killer before more lives are claimed.

Deadly Animals by Marie Tierney was published on 15 February 2024 by Zaffre. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Compulsive Readers Blog Tour 

Oh my goodness! Deadly Animals is both disturbing and poetic at the same time. Marie Tierney is a welcome addition to the UK crime writer's stable. This debut is wonderfully imagined and at times the writing is just beautiful, despite the horrors that it describes. 

We meet thirteen-year-old Ava in May 1981. She lives in a pretty deprived area of Birmingham. Ava is an unusual girl. She is fascinated by how dead animals decompose, she's extremely intelligent and knows so much more than the majority of the adults that surround her, and certainly more than the kids that bully her at school. 

Ava has her own 'lab', an area of waste land where she has buried various dead animals - she hasn't killed them - they are generally road kill. Ava examines them regularly, noting down any differences in the bones, the skin, the innards. It is at one of these examinations that Ava discovers another body. A human body, and she knows who it is. Mickey Grant has been missing for a while, and here he is, in Ava's space. She didn't like the alive Mickey, but realises that she must report her findings. She does, and disguises her voice. 

Detective Seth Delahaye is new to Birmingham, recently arrived from the Met and he is assigned the case. When he and Ava meet, there's an immediate connection. Unlike most people, Delahaye doesn't dismiss her words, or treat her badly, he recognises something in her and he listens carefully to what she says. Ava's only other real friend is an older boy, John. John attends a different school, but will meet Ava at the school gates. He's aware of how she suffers at the hands of bullies and they form an unlikely alliance, along with John's grandfather, in what they call their War Room. 

Whilst Delahaye carries out his investigations, so too do Ava and John, and it becomes clear that there's probably a serial killer on the loose, but is the killer a human? Sightings of a large creature, with yellow eyes make this case seem even stranger. 

There's a darkness about the story that is overshadowed by the beauty of the characters. It is the relationships formed in this novel that really struck home for me. Yes, there's death, and some pretty gritty scenes, but they fit so well and compliment the overall theme of friendship and reliability. 

Ava is a fabulous character. Thirteen, but going on thirty, she has a lot to deal with. She's passionate and loyal and tries her hardest to see the best in people, even when they are not so nice to her. 

Deadly Animals is a novel that will stay with the reader for a long time, populated with characters who are relatable yet unusual. The 1980s era is brilliantly portrayed with a fabulous sense of place too. 

An author to watch for sure. Recommended by me. 

MARIE TIERNEY was a finalist in the Daily Mail First Novel competition and her debut crime novel, Deadly Animals, was selected by bestselling crime writer Peter James as his winner. 

She cites Richard Adams, Margaret Atwood and Stephen King among her literary influences and, when she is isn't researching criminal history, she writes plays, poetry and creates art in different mediums. 

Born and raised in Birmingham, Marie held various jobs across four counties and dedicated almost twenty years to working in education before becoming a full-time writer. 

She now lives in The Fens with her husband and son.

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