Dying Truth by Angela Marsons

Bookoutre | 2018 (ebook: 18 May) | Review copy | Buy the book

Dying Truth by Angela MarsonsWhen the battered body of teenager Sadie Winters is found in a tangled heap at her exclusive boarding school of Heathcrest it seems clear what happened – she jumped from the roof. A terrible, tragic end for a troubled youngster. But when another pupil, a boy this time, dies at the School that same week, Detective Inspector Kim Stone suspects foul play. She isn’t one to believe in coincidences, no matter how many times the headmaster assures nervous parents that their children are safe. Stone and her team dig into the culture of the Heathcrest, uncovering stories of a secret society, while Kim Stone becomes fascinated by the idea of a child killer. There is something very rotten at the heart of Heathcrest School and its astronomical fees cannot hide it forever. Stone will do whatever it takes to discover the truth and so too will her dedicated team.

Dying Truth is the eighth novel in Angela Marsons’ absolutely wonderful Kim Stone series. I’ve yet to read them all – I’ve bought them all so they’re ready to go – but it’s abundantly clear that this is a very special series indeed and this novel is a fine contribution to it, if not the best. Angela Marsons is a crime writer that stands out on that crowded shelf and Dying Truth confirms that place. If you haven’t read the others, then I think you could read and enjoy this as a stand alone novel. But if you’ve read some or all of the others then you may well find yourself as traumatised as I was by the end. Angela, what have you done to me?!

The setting is fantastic. Murder mysteries set within a confined space with a limited number of suspects always appeal but there is nothing cosy about this novel. We break through the confines of the school by learning what has happened to former pupils but the school dominates like an ogre that reaches the dark sky. It’s a horrifying place. Angela Marsons evokes it perfectly, its mood of terror is portrayed convincingly.

Dying Truth is a pageturner if ever I read one. This is one of those delicious thrillers that you just don’t want to put down. Its short chapters, many with their own cliffhangers, maintain the pace from start to finish. It’s as exciting as it is disturbing.

But while the school dominates the novel’s mood, it’s the character of Kim Stone who forms its heart. I love everything about her. I love how fearless she is, how she refuses to take any nonsense and she has the perfect response to any sexist or snide remark. She’s clever, grumpy and strong-willed. She can go after the red herrings but she knows when to let them go. And then there’s her devotion and loyalty to her team. This is a major theme of Dying Truth and it gives the novel such a heart, in contrast to some of the families that we meet here. It also gives the novel some of its pain.

Dying Truth is the perfect example of how to pace and plot a crime thriller. There is interest on every page, every character adds something, and its mood is perfectly captured. I loved this book and I can’t recommend it, or the Kim Stone series, enough. Don’t let it pass you by.

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