This is a gritty murder mystery set in West London. Neely shares a flat with her girlfriend Angela. Neely is middle class and abandoned her PhD to become an office manager in London. Angela is local and grew up in the school of hard knocks. Her life changed radically when she had her first epileptic seizure at age nine. Her older sister Andrea protects her fiercely.
Despite the huge difference in background, style and outlook, Neely and Angela are very happy together. Then, as the year draws close to Christmas, Neely comes home to find their flat empty. The worst thing imaginable has happened. What follows in a series of brilliantly interwoven flashbacks/flash forwards is the story of who they - and various friends and family - really are. Neely learns things about Angela that Angela never told her. The milieu in which they live is full of druggies, would-be musicians and refugees. Everyone swears a lot. In fact, the whole tenor of modern life is vividly portrayed, often in sentences that sing with interesting word craft. Kite can really write and we look forward to her next book. London is as much a character as the people.
This is a totally new kind of murder mystery. We do find out who dunnit (pretty much), but there’s actually more interest in the response of the characters, particularly when Neely uses the press for her own ends, flagrantly confabulating a version of events that bears little resemblance to the truth. All the characters and the lives they lead are distinctly believable (unlike the last novel I read). So satisfying when a book exceeds expectations. Incidentally, this book was produced by Unbound, an organisation that crowdfunds authors, who receive around 50% of profits rather than the pitiful percentage authors usually get. Finally: I can see it being a brilliant movie. Much meatier than Girl on a Train.