Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dying Voices by Laura Wilson

Author: Laura Wilson
ISBN # 0752843281
Publisher: Orion
1st Published: 2000
293 pages

When Dodie Blackstock, only child of multi-millionaire Wolf Blackstock, is told that her mother's body has been found in a housing estate in Hackney, she is shocked. When she is told that her mother, Susan, has been dead for less than 48 hours, she is devastated, for Susan was kidnapped, apparently by a politically motivated group, when Dodie was eight. Susan was never found, and she was presumed dead.

by her lonely childhood, Dodie has been estranged from her dysfunctional and complicated family for years. She returns to Camoys Hall, the Blackstocks' stately home, to talk to her stepmother Joan, who lives there by herself. But Dodie finds more than she bargained for - and then she starts to receive anonymous and threatening letters. Who is waiting in the darkness outside Camoys Hall, watching her every move . . . ?

Dying Voices is less of a Whodunit, more of a Whydunit. From the start, we know that Susan Blackstock was kidnapped; one of her kidnappers was killed and his two accomplices did time for their part in the crime; her body isn’t found till 20 years later and she’s only been dead for 48 hours. What we are left with is a mystery to slowly unravel as Dodie pieces together information from various sources to find out exactly what happened all those years ago, the circumstances that led to the kidnap and what impact it will have on her life now.

It’s a clever piece of work and I was kept guessing right up to the very last moment. If I hadn’t been reading two other books at the same time, this one would have had the pages flying as I swept through it – I hated to put it down. That said, there were aspects of Dodie’s character I never got to grips with – her self-denigrating / self-destructive streak that seemed very prominent was never fully explained other than a brief nod towards the notion that she had blamed herself, as a child, for her mother’s disappearance, but that didn’t quite sit right with me. Her complete lack of self-confidence seemed a little out of place, but made for good tension between her and other characters, as she is continually sure that people only want to know her for what she can give them.

Rating: 7


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