23 May 2008

DEAD LOVELY, Helen Fitzgerald

Allen & Unwin, 2007, 298 pages

We know from the beginning that Krissie Donald has killed her best friend Sarah Morgan. They are on a hiking holiday in Scotland with Sarah's husband Kyle, and you know the old saying, three's a crowd.

Krissie Donald has always been a bit unstable, a rolling stone, and promiscuous with it. One of the results of her promiscuity after a holiday in Tenerife was pregnancy. But Krissie is not yet ready to be a mother to her son Robbie. Sarah on the other hand is childless despite almost 8 years of trying to fall pregnant.

Krissie's near nervous collapse is the reason for the hiking holiday, but it ends in a way that none of them could have predicted.

This is a book where the writing and structure break all the rules. It has a deceptively simple style- very short sentences for the most part, and often very blunt expression. I would be tempted to characterise it as chick-lit, and I think the market it is probably aimed at is young women. This is reinforced not only by its vocabulary, but also through the topics of interest to the main characters: sex, pregnancy, getting drunk.

One of the rules that it breaks happens through abrupt changes in P.O.V. For example the first four chapters are in the first person, Krissie's voice. Then chapter 5 is third person, almost a narrator, and in chapter 6 back to Krissie's voice. When this first happens it is a bit disconcerting.
Chapter 5 prompted me to look back and check whose head I had been in in the previous chapters. At times we see the action through the eyes of other narrators too. It's part of what makes this novel quite remarkable.

What surprised me about this novel was how well very disparate strands converged towards the final resolution. I wouldn't say it was all believable. The murder is particularly grisly and there was an un-hinged side to the murderer that I hadn't been prepared for.

Not my best read for the year, but a good solid one.
My rating 4.0

Sally reviewed it here

From Helen Fitzgerald's web site:
Helen FitzGerald writes thrillers and teen fiction. Her first novel - Dead Lovely - was published by Allen and Unwin in Australia and New Zealand in Sept 2007 and will be published in the UK by Faber and Faber in June 2008. She has four thrillers being published in the UK in 2008 and 2009. The books have been sold to numerous other countries and will be translated into several languages. Helen's writing is pacy, sharp, funny and disturbing.

Someone needs to write better text for her though - the description of the plot of DEAD LOVELY on the website gives the game away a bit.


sally906 said...

Good review Kerrie - I've linked your over on mine :)

Kerrie said...

thanks Sally.


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