Twelve-year-old Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose, move to London from Massachusetts where they meet the charismatic Matty Melgren, who quickly becomes an intrinsic part of their lives. But as the relationship between the two adults fractures, a serial killer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose.
When Matty is eventually sent down for multiple murder, questions remain as to his guilt – questions whcih ultimately destroy both women. Nearly twenty years later, Sophie receives a letter from Battlemouth Prison informing her Matty is dying and wants to meet her. It looks like Sophie might finally get the answers she craves. But will the truth set her free or bury her deeper?
Thank you to Joe at Quercus for reaching out and inviting me to be involved in the social media for Truly Darkly Deeply.
From the very first page, this book had me hooked with such an original premise; Sophie looks back on her life, a life in which her mother’s long term partner is serving life for multiple murders. Her decision to tell her story now triggered by his request for her to visit him in prison, accompanied by the revelation that he is dying. The story then moves between the current and then – then being when a notorious murderer, dubbed Shadow was killing women in North London, close to Sophie’s home. Targeting women who bore more than a passing resemblance to Sophie’s mother.
Exploring what it means to be forever linked to a serial killer – think of those absolutely infamous ones – Ted Bundy, Dennis Neilson, you know the type. For Sophie that was her life – forever trying to reconcile the man she knew and loved as a father figure, with what is said about him, what people believe and what he was convicted of.
This book was a sharp read, a page turner; right up my street. I enjoy true crime and find serial killers fascinating – in the morbid way that many of us do. This book ticked all the boxes but as a work of fiction was compelling throughout. It felt very authentic, Sophie real in her conflicting emotions for Matty and the impact this had on her forever. Interspersed with the narrative were blogposts, reports, narratives those for and against the killer – those arguing for his innocence, those convinced of his guilt and damning of anyone associated with him.
Throughout the book there was a degree of uncertainty, there was evidence enough to convict him but without a confession, in the time before DNA was conclusive how can anyone be certain? This was a central feature of the story, for Sophie and her mum living with the guilt, no matter what, should they have known or are they condemning an innocent man – should they know better – after all they knew and loved him – how could they not know?
Told from the perspective of Sophie, in the first person voice. A fascinating and insightful read which I highly recommend. It brings to mind The Innocent Wife – a story from the perspective of the wife of a killer, reviewed here. It would seem that I am not the only one fascinated by this genre!
Available to buy now.
Thanks as always for reading.
About the Author
Victoria Selman is the author of the critically acclaimed Ziba Mackenzie series and her debut novel, Blood for Blood, was shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. She read Modern History at Oxford University and holds certificates in criminal profiling and criminal psychology. Victoria Selman has written for the Independent and co-hosts Crime Time FM with Barry Forshaw and Paul Burke.