is a murder story with a cast of characters who are well-to-do thirty
somethings participating in a consumerist lifestyle in a wealthy London suburb.
One of their number has
survived a vicious attack on her life, and has become a nervous wreck as a
The story is told from the
points of view of different female characters, including a Detective Inspector
in the local branch of the Met. One of
the other young women narrates her tale in the first person, and differs from
the others in that she is dead. This
approach could fail dismally, but Colette McBeth handles it skilfully and you
can almost believe it.
The body of a young, beautiful
blonde woman is discovered by a man walking his dog on Ham Common. In her hand is a gold chain necklace with a
bird in a cage as a pendant. The crime
appears to be a copycat version of another a few years earlier upon Melody, who
not only bears a close physical resemblance to the new victim, but was also
found with a gold birdcage chain identical to the one on the murder
victim. The difference is that this
woman is dead, whereas Melody miraculously survived.
Melody from the time of her
attack is a totally changed character from the happy-go-lucky girl that she was
She now lives in a very
expensive house in the country, built for her by her fiancé, Sam, a wealthy
young specialist at a nearby hospital. They plan to marry in a few months. But Melody won't go outside the house on her own, and Sam has built a
high wall round the house and garden so that she cannot even see the outside
world. She spends her days buying
household goods she doesn't really want on the internet, and her only company
apart from Sam, who works long hours anyway, is a female personal trainer who
keeps her physically fit.
The police arrested David,
Melody's next-door neighbour at the time, but were unable to prove attempted
murder because the evidence was mainly circumstantial. He has nonetheless spent several years in
prison for grievous bodily harm. He was
released a few days before the murder. The police draw the obvious conclusion and he is re-arrested.
The ensuing drama is
completely absorbing if you can accept the supernatural element. Personally I found the participants rather
hard to take, due to their lifestyles
which seem to lack any sort of morality or empathy. It seems you have to be dead to discover the