Published by Orenda Books
ebook : 5 August 2016 | Paperback : 15 September 2016
Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving psychological thriller which marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s top crime writers.
Oh my. What. A. Book.
I went through a myriad of emotions whilst reading this and there were times when I had to force myself to carry on – for no other reason than I was being a wimp. I was scared of how much further the violence and abuse would escalate. This book also made me angry. Angry that anyone could treat someone they profess to love in such a vile and evil way, and also, although I feel bad for admitting this, at times I felt anger and frustration at Andy for being determined to keep everything hidden and for taking the blame. He told himself that it was his fault that this was happening. He must have done something wrong.
Michael Malone superbly conveys the shame and humiliation felt by Andy and his descent into despair. His determination to try and shield his boys from the ever increasing madness means that those who love him and could help him are shut out, not knowing why.
We are horrified when we hear of women being abused by men but this doesn’t happen to men. Does it. Only it does and it’s just as horrific and unacceptable whichever of the sexes is the abuser. Although this book is set in the late 1990’s I’m not so sure that attitudes have changed significantly with law enforcement seeming to automatically take the women’s side. Andy Boyd is a big man – big in stature but also in heart. He was brought up to believe that men don’t hit women. He is also aware that if he retaliated he could inflict far more damage so he doesn’t. In addition, there is the the risk of him losing his children. He takes whatever physical and mental abuse comes his way whilst trying to remember that somewhere inside that angry and damaged person is someone he loves.
The characters here are expertly drawn and sadly, so very realistic. Sometimes I felt as though I were a bystander, looking through a window at someone’s dysfunctional marriage. As much as you might want to look away, you can’t. You are transfixed but desperately hope that all will be well. There is violence, there has to be to tell this story but it’s not graphic or gratuitous. There is also a touch of humour now and again to bring a little light relief from the darkness. Andy is not the only one to face such such deeply personal issues. There are other characters and their situations and actions also affect him. Andy was a very easy character to feel sympathy for. A widower with a young son whom he adores, he is loyal, kind hearted and would be many women’s idea of a perfect partner. It would be too easy to hate Anna (and there were many times when I did hate her, with a passion!) but when she wasn’t being angry and manipulative, she could be loving. She certainly was a very complex person with deep rooted issues.
Michael Malone has written an emotional, thought provoking and powerful story that may just break your heart. It’s not an easy read but I think it’s a necessary one, if only to highlight that it’s not just women who suffer abuse. It’s getting to that time when I’m thinking about my Top Books of the year. There is no doubt that this will be one of them.
My thanks to Karen of Orenda for the paperback copy to review.
For further information on the background to the book, there is an interesting article written by Michael Malone for the Guardian
About the author:
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers.
Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; and Beyond the Rage. His poetry includes: In The Raw, Running Threads and Lip Synch. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. A Suitable Lie will be published by Orenda Books in September 2016.