Killing Kate | Alex Lake | 2016 | Harper | 406p | Review copy | Buy the book
Kate has just split up with Phil, her longterm boyfriend, and he hasn’t taken it at all well. She decides that a few days’ holiday with her best friends will help her to clear her head and put it all behind her. But when she gets back, she discovers that a woman in her home town has been murdered. It makes Kate stop and think. The murder victim looks an awful lot like she does. This could be just a troubling coincidence but when another lookalike is murdered, and then another, and it feels like she’s being followed, Kate learns the meaning of real fear. It couldn’t be Phil, could it?
Killing Kate is such a fantastic thriller, not least because it begins as one thing and then explodes into something else, moving back and forth through time and between characters, that grabs you by the gut and twists. When I started the novel, I thought I knew what I was getting, its beginning following a familiar, albeit entertaining path. But all that was blown away after a few chapters and it stampeded along, and, as for the final third, this is truly brilliant – in a terrifying, breathless, horrific, fabulous kind of way. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I enjoyed Alex Lake’s previous novel After Anna enormously and Killing Kate, if anything, is even better.
Alex Lake knows her craft inside out. She creates believable, real people and places them in situations that might be terrifying but they also seem fearfully plausible, and she grabs hold of the reader and does not let go until the final page. I couldn’t ask for anything more from a crime thriller or psychological thriller or however you’d wish to classify this.
I don’t really want to tell you anything else about Killing Kate. It’s best to read it knowing as little as possible. But I must say how clever it is, how well Alex Lake writes, how well she tells a story, how little she needs to rely on twists to pull off a thriller as good this. For the second year running, she has written one of the best crime novels of the year and is now most definitely among my list of favourite thriller authors. As for that title….. should I be worried?