Keith Miles is probably best recognised by readers under the pen name of Edward Marston. He writes several well-received historical mysteries spanning the 11th century through to the 19th century. His website is www.edwardmarston.com
Julia Crouch’s novels are notable for their sharp observation, their descriptive prose, their clever plotting and their control of pace. The Long Fall has all these elements with a few others besides.
1980. When young, adventurous, freewheeling Emma has a holiday on a Greek island before going to university, she learns far more than she ever will as an undergraduate. Her stay on Ikaria involves a loss of innocence at the deepest level. She and her friend, Beattie, murder a man by pushing him over the edge of the rocks and into the sea. It’s an event that will haunt Emma for the rest of her life.
2013. Emma is now living as Kate Barratt, wife of a successful fund manager and mother of Tilly, a drama student. With a settled, apparently idyllic life, Kate tries to expiate some of her guilt by setting up a charity. She is horrified when her daughter talks of going off to Greece because it brings Emma and all the associated nightmares back to life. The past becomes even more immediate when she is contacted by Beattie, who has some alarming news for her.
Emma’s story is told in a series of diary entries. When it is Kate’s turn, the novel switches to third-person narrative. With Kate’s life now in free-fall, she returns to the island where it all started and has a desperate confrontation with her tormentor.
The Long Fall is a well-written thriller with some engaging characters and unexpected twists and turns. The problem is that the reader is asked to sympathise with a woman who commits an appalling crime, deceives her husband completely about her past and is ready to kill once again when that past finally catches up with her. It’s the only flaw in an otherwise excellent read.