There are so many ways to fall…
Catriona needs help. Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.
When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest.
Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is
From the outset I want to say that this book is the second in a series. Sadly this is not indicated on the cover or in the blurb and I only realised when I was already reading the book. Being a strictler for reading book series in order, I found this a bit frustrating as I haven't read the first book yet. This mystery can be read as a standalone, however there are frequent references (and possible spoilers) to what happened in the first book. So, I would highly recommend readers to read the first book 'The Bad Things' before reading this.
"The truth. That's all I want."
Soon after MEP Catriona Devonshire married her second husband Mark, her teenage daughter Elena was whisked away to The Drift, "a posh boarding school for posh kids". One day Catriona receives the tragic news that Elena has died after falling off a cliff near the school. Having suffered from depression and anorexia in the past, an inquest into Elena's death soon concluded that this was a case of suicide. But Catriona is not convinced and wants answers. Has her daughter really relapsed and committed the unthinkable? Or did someone push her down the cliff?
"There were too many people not saying anything. Someone somewhere had to know more."
Catriona contacts her childhood friend Alex Devlin, a journalist, to look into her daughter's death. However, at Hallow's Edge, in North Norfolk, Alex's presence is not welcomed by everyone and her questioning and digging ruffles the feathers of some very nasty individuals who are not happy with her intrusion. She soon realises that the respectable school's beautiful exterior hides a very rotten core. Secrets, lies, bullying and drugs are rife in and around the school and nothing is what it seems.
This book is a well-written, tense read with believable characters and realistic dialogues. I liked Alex and her way of thinking. She's a strong-headed, astute and tenacious woman even though weighed down by her and her family's tragic past.
I liked the setting of the book in North Norfolk. The author's vivid descriptions of the coastline, the grey sea, the cliffs and the endless sky made me feel as though I was there feeling the cool sea breeze on my face.
The book kept my interest throughout as I was curious about what really happened to Elena. We have some chapters from the point of view of the dead girl, telling us what happened behind the school door and in the village when she was still alive. We also have some intriguing quotes from the point of view of an unidentified person which was very close to Elena. Who is this person?
There are many questionable characters in this story, and as I was reading I kept shifting my pointed finger from one suspicious individual to another. However when the truth was finally revealed at the end, it certainly wasn't what I was expecting.
This was my first book by Mary-Jane Riley and it won't be the last, in fact now I'm looking forward to going back and reading the first book in the series to have a complete picture of Alex's story.
With thanks to HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction for approving my request to read and review this book through Netgalley.
Mary-Jane Riley spent many years as a BBC journalist and talk show broadcaster, covering some of the darker stories of the last decade, including the Suffolk prostitute murders, the Cambridgeshire serial killer Joanna Dennehy and Operation Endeavour, the police operation to trap illegal gangmasters in the Fens. She has had short stories published in women’s magazines, including Bella, Women’s Weekly and That’s Life. Mary-Jane Riley is married with three children and lives in rural Suffolk. After She Fell is her second novel.