What Remains of Me

Written by Alison Gaylin

Review written by Ali Karim

Ali Karim is a Board Member of Bouchercon [The World Crime & Mystery Convention] and co-chaired programming for Bouchercon Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015. He is Assistant Editor of Shots eZine, British correspondent for The Rap Sheet and writes and reviews for many US magazines & Ezines.


What Remains of Me
Arrow
RRP: £7.99
Released: December 1st 2016
PBK

Award-winning Alison Gaylin’s ninth novel is a remarkable slice of Americana and a change of pace with a narrative that is as hard to put down, as it is exciting.

A standalone thriller rather than one of her breathless Brenna Spector series novels, we see that over thirty years ago Kelly [Michelle] Lund shot and killed the renowned film director John McFadden. Kelly was a teenager at the time, and speculation as to her motive remains whispered in that Hollywood community, and outside the canyon.

Over three decades later, with Kelly released from incarceration, the controversy continues as another movie legend, Sterling Marshall is found dead at his home in Hollywood. Marshall was a friend of the late McFadden, and has a gunshot wound to the head, just like McFadden. Marshall was Kelly’s father-in-law, so the old suspicions return about Kelly Lund and her murderous past.

Written with a split timeline, and a style reminiscent of a Hollywood Babylon exposé-type magazine feature, the pages turn fast with vividly realised muscular prose, making this is a one sitting read. Though the key here is the characterisation, something that Gaylin is renowned for in her twisty narratives.

There are back stories to be told as Kelly Lund’s family has tragedies of the past; the issues of growing up and being schooled in what many term LA-LA Land, as well as some of the odder people that become attracted to the artifice that is Hollywood. The insight into Kelly’s past, with her relationship to her sister Catherine, and her friend Bellamy [she marries Bellamy’s brother, Shane] is evocatively realised, but with unease, rather than the sepia that is nostalgia.

Like the Hollywood backdrop itself, there are secrets hidden in the past of Kelly’s life that become revealed as the reader investigates the two murders, and the context of the gunshots that ricocheted in the shadow of Laurel Canyon. 

A highly recommended thriller, that reaches an unexpected and thought-provoking climax. Written with verve and intrigue that will make you go back and explore Gaylin’s award-winning Brenna Spector series.


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