Yesterday the Michael Joseph publishing department at Penguin dropped Gillian McAllister’s The Evidence Against You, a crime thriller. And I was glued from the first page…
Izzy English, a restaurant owner, is thirty-six and lives on the Isle of Wight with her husband Nick, a police analyst. Her mother died seventeen years ago and her father, Gabriel, just got released from prison on parole after being convicted for her murder. Gabe immediately finds Izzy at the restaurant, Alexandra’s, which her mother used to run. She has made no attempt to hide, having repressed the murder on Hallowe’en 1999 that changed everything: getting into ballet school, her relationship, her home. She makes little attempt to resist her father getting into contact, and eventually calls and even meets up with him. He has changed almost beyond recognition.
Izzy is stuck in a kind of limbo between the life she had and the life she has settled into. Her husband, Nick, discourages the bond she has formed with her father. Part of her is disbelieving of Gabe, whereas a strong sense of her memories of him gravitate Izzy towards hearing his story. With her indecision, the reader is stretched between the two opposing sides themselves: reminiscent of even Romeo and Juilet.
McAllister forms dynamic and wholly captivating characters who you cannot help but question: means, motives, capability. Without spoiling the ending too much, McAllister’s book is unlike any murder mystery I have read before: you simply cannot guess how the story will end. I found my expectations usually raised by this crime genre to be thoroughly challenged and it really has changed my view of murder mysteries. I was kept on my feet throughout. With no formal detective, Izzy being both a victim and bystander of the tragedy, when the next piece of evidence will come to light is unpredictable. It is a totally refreshing mystery. McAllister masterfully keeps the reader both in the dark and invites them on a thoroughly personal and thought-provoking tour of the effects of tragedy. Death frequently capturing the audience’s imagination, I think McAllister successfully challenges this femme fatale ideal in a vibrant and exciting way.
In all, it is refreshing to read a strong and unashamedly female narrative that is challenging, tragic but completely fun all at once. The novel entices the reader in with beautifully formed characters and threatens everything with a subtle tension urging you to turn page after page. In all, I cannot recommend this book enough to you, I was simply glued from page one.