Top critical review
Fell a little Flat
19 December 2018
Last Lullaby (DI Natalie Ward #2) by Carol Wyer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Read: 15th December 2018
*** 3 stars
LAST LULLABY by Carol Wyer is the second in the DI Natalie Ward series, though I have yet to read the first. Like most series, each book has a standalone mystery to solve and it doesn't really matter a whole lot if read out of sequence. Though as a general rule, I do prefer to read them in order.
I have read the first in her DI Robyn Carter series, "Little Girl Lost" and I absolutely LOVED it, so I had high hopes for this one...particularly given the theme. However, I may be one of the only ones to find the book falling a little flat for me. I didn't find it as enthralling as the previous book I read and it seemed to drag in places. Of course it never helps if you have difficulty identifying with the characters and I did feel somewhat this way with many of them.
It begins with Charlotte, mother of 6 month old Alfie, being brutally murdered in her home one night after dinner with her parents and a row with her husband on the way home. Adam, her husband, had left to take the babysitter home and left to have drinks with a mate at the pub then back at his place before returning home and discovering his wife's blood soaked body. It appears he has an airtight alibi...or does he?
DI Natalie Ward and her team investigate Charlotte's brutal murder, all the while trying to find holes in Adam's narrative and before long they discover he has a few too many secrets he has been keeping. It isn't long before they also find his alibi isn't as strong as he claimed, putting him firmly back in the frame. However, he isn't the only suspect and the team find themselves butting heads trying to get a lead.
When a second body is found with disturbing similarities Natalie realises they may have a serial killer in their midst. With Adam remaining firmly in the frame, the team delve into both women's lives to find a link between them in an effort to discover why they have been killed, and their babies left unharmed in the next room to their mothers' untimely ends. Before a third victim falls prey to this brutal killer.
The book is written from multiple POVs to enable the reader to get the bigger picture and get a feel for each of the characters. We also get a glimpse into their personal lives aside from the investigation which does give it a more personal touch. Although sometimes I wondered whether I was more irritated by that and preferred to rather get on with the case instead of worrying about whether your own husband is lying to you. Unless of course it has something to do with the case - which it doesn't so it irritated me a little. The fact that Natalie is ballsy and strong while her husband is someone emasculated by her position, doesn't sit right with me either. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer a softer woman and a stronger husband whilst still remaining sensitive. To me, David just whined a whole lot and I just didn't want to hear it while Natalie preferred to shut the door on it till the case was over. Lucy was ballsy too. I really don't see why authors feel the need to paint their women in such bitchy or ballsy or overly strong "don't mess with me" women, whilst stripping them of their femininity, making them basically men with tits. It doesn't sit right with me, I am not a fan of it, so I guess it makes it hard for me to connect with characters like this when I wouldn't befriend people like this in real life.
But they weren't the only characters I couldn't connect with. I didn't like or trust Adam, Lee, Rob, Jed or even Charlotte's sister Phoebe. The whole lot appeared dysfunctional and selfish. Had another side to them been portrayed as well, I may have connected to them better.
The interesting chapters were those between the psychologist and the patient. It is apparent from the start of these insights that the patient is the killer and we find ourselves sifting through what we already know to try and identify them. We don't know whether the psychologist is male or female until later. But it does have a huge bearing on the case and the story unfolding. I did find one fault in these chapters. That is, the psychologist is referred to as "doctor". Psychologists are not doctors. They are mental health professionals in psychology but have no medical training so therefore they are not doctors. A little error, but one I feel should have been addressed before publication.
I loved the premise. I loved the whole concept. I loved how it panned out. BUT...it still fell flat. I didn't find it compelling or as intriguing, and while I loved the build up to identifying the killer and discovering why, it still fell flat. And I was disappointed because I so loved "Little Girl Lost". And I know Carol Wyer is a brilliant author.
I did quite like the cliffhanger we were left on and I hope we won't have to wait long for the follow up.
I would still recommend LAST LULLABY because it is an OK read in my opinion but others may really love it. For me the characters irritated me and I guess it was that that made it disappointing. But it was still enjoyable. I just felt it could have ended sooner, and I felt it dragged a little by the end. Also, as an aside, I thought the title was a little misleading as it gives the impression of it being about the children when they actually feature so little in the story.
I would like to thank #CarolWyer, #NetGalley and #Bookouture for an ARC of #LastLullaby.