What Remains of Me – A.L. Gaylin

51eeTJ4jZAL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Challenge Criteria:
1. The first book you see in a bookstore
2. A murder mystery

On Saturday, after I convinced my parents to take me out for pancakes for breakfast (which, incidentally, were totally delicious), I decided I would pick the book to fulfil the ‘First book you see in a bookstore’ part of the PopSugar Reading Challenge.

So as I headed towards the tube station, I walked into WH Smith and took a photo of the first book I saw. It was actually a promotional stand in conjunction with the Telegraph. So that was this challenge criteria fulfilled.

Funny thing, though, I had actually already read this book – I got a NetGalley copy of it earlier this year, and although I posted my review on NetGalley, it never made it up onto the blog.

Then, while I was planning this blog post, it occurred to me that this particular book would be a much better fit for the ‘Murder Mystery’ category than Local Girl Missing, which is about a missing person more than a murder. So that’s one category filled and one category improved, with a book that I had actually forgotten I had read this year. But it’s in my August Round-Up, so I must have read it.

What Remains of me – A.L. Gaylin

People don’t need to know you’re a murderer.
They just have to think you could be…

June 1980: 17-year-old Kelly Lund is jailed for killing Hollywood film director, John McFadden

Thirty years later, Kelly is a free woman. Yet speculation still swirls over what really happened that night.

And when her father-in law, and close friend of McFadden is found dead – shot through the head at point-blank range – there can only be one suspect.

But this time Kelly has some high-profile friends who believe she’s innocent of both crimes.

But is she?

What Remains of Me was a tense, densely-plotted thriller which followed Kelly Lund, a convicted murderer, as she was investigated for the death of her father-in-law in circumstances eerily similar to the murder she spent 25 years in jail for.
The two murders played out in parallel – the 1980 events leading up to the death of celebrated Hollywood director John McFadden alternated with the investigation of the death of Kelly’s charismatic and beloved actor father-in-law, Sterling Marshall.
There was a lot I enjoyed in this book. The tension ratcheted up incessantly, as the dénouement of the plot approached, and I was tensely anticipating a resolution which would leave me breathless. I also really appreciated the depiction of the rabid desire of the public to paint people as caricatures – Kelly the teenaged murderer with her dead eyes was only the less sympathetic as thirty years passed and she was under the finger of suspicion again, and the press’s intrusive investigations and depictions of her did nothing to help her in getting on with her life and her future. The mystery of Kelly’s detached relationship with her husband is intriguing, as well as her shattered relationship with childhood friend Bellamy. There was a lot in this book that I really liked, and it crackled with energy as the characters jumped off the page to demonstrate their lives and loves in the fast lane of being Hollywood’s golden children.
But there was also a lot that I didn’t like – it felt like there were too many characters, and too many issues going on at the same time. Kelly’s motivations were difficult to understand and empathise with, especially in how she acted in 2010. The absolute lack of even a single marginally-functional adult felt forced. There were way, way too many secrets and revelations going around – not just about who knew what and who was who, but also when and why these secrets came out – although the tension was high and the constant revelations and twists fuelled this, it was stressed almost beyond the point of believability at times. Finally, the conclusion of the book wrapped everything up far too neatly, with a nice bow, in that everything seemed to resolve itself and interlink wonderfully. I would have preferred something a little more messy, a little more human, and a little less unbelievable. A perfectly acceptable thriller, but not one that I would read again.
A few (actually only three) months after I’ve finished this book, I have to admit that I’ve forgotten who the killer is, so that strengthens my opinion of this book as somewhat mediocre – it didn’t linger in my mind at all.

Although I will admit that I’m pleased that I’ve checked off two categories with this particular book. I’m struggling at this point, so multiple categories with a single book is a good thing!

Three Stars

PS – My blog is snowing! Happy Christmas!!


1 Comment

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One response to “What Remains of Me – A.L. Gaylin

  1. Pingback: PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 | Much Ado About Books

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