I loved Precious Thing and the good news is that McBeth’s second novel is out this week.
In less capable hands The Life I Left Behind could have been a confusing jumble of a book. The action flicks back and forward in time and the story is told by three characters, one of whom is dead.
It sounds bewildering, but it really isn’t. McBeth manages her multi-faceted story with confidence and clarity. She’s particularly good on the complex nature of friendship and the way it shifts and flows as lives change and people move on.
The plot centres on Melody Pieterson, a young Londoner who was attacked and left for dead five years earlier. She survives against the odds and her attacker is jailed. But even though she builds a new, slightly Stepford Wives sort of life with her doctor fiancé, she’s an emotional wreck, scared to venture out by herself.
But then the body of another young woman is found in a London park, close to where Melody herself was discovered. The victim, a TV producer called Eve Elliot, looks uncannily like Melody and once again police find a gold birdcage necklace at the scene.
As it dawns on Melody that her attacker can’t be the man who was convicted for the crime she sets out to discover what really happened – and in the process uncovers a string of shocking secrets and lies.
Second novels are notoriously difficult to write but if anything The Life I Left Behind is even more gripping than McBeth’s first novel. She’s definitely a crime writer to watch.
The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth (Headline, £13.99)