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Crime novel set in Brighton (thrills by the sea…)

31st July 2017

The Other Twin by L V Hay, crime novel set in Brighton.

Another cover from Orenda Books that is utterly eye-catching and well designed.

Crime novel set in Brighton

Poppy’s sister India has jumped to her death from a bridge in Brighton and Poppy immediately decamps down to her mother’s house in the seaside resort of Brighton, to be with mum and her partner Tim. She just cannot believe it and although the sisters have not really been in contact over recent time, Poppy knows that suicide was just not part of her sister’s character.

Everyone is in such shock, no-one is thinking straight. So Poppy is drawn to look deeper into her sister’s death. Matthew is a young man with whom she once lived, a relationship that had a tricky ending, yet she approaches him for background on her sister’s life. Both Matthew and his own sister are the off-spring of a nouveau-riche couple, the Spences – with their own noveau family crest – who own the Obelisk, a hotel complex that towers over Brighton. Her own history with the Spence family muddies already dark and sulphurous waters, and the further Poppy probes, the more she is rebuffed. Dead ends are everywhere, it seems.

Chancing upon her sister’s blog, she pays to have India’s computer unlocked. There she discovers more evidence that India’s death is not all it seems. The author sets her story very much in the present day of the internet and Social Media age, it’s sharply observed and stark in its reality. Does Jenny, active in the blog dialogue discovered on India’s computer, really exist and if so, where might she be found?

The novel has a good pace and an interesting ending. The author has a creative, confident and sound writing style. Brighton is certainly a good backdrop, with colour, references to the LGBTQ community which has a strong in the town…mention of the Lanes, the beach… and the darkness of the Winter months, appropriate to this rather bleak storyline.

The book has received many accolades, there are inumerous 5* reivews out there. For me it didn’t quite hit the high notes which it clearly has for others. The aspect that didn’t work for me is the added texture of the narrative in the form of the bit part players who have been consigned to “type” – often with ugly attributes – who are woven into the story. Women on a hen party fall over and are sick – for sure, an everyday occurrence but perhaps hardly worth noting; Cerise, another character “grabs the label ‘chav’ and wears it as a badge of honour“. These set the context but felt just a little contrived and to my mind didn’t aid progression of the plot.

Poppy, although very much adult, has some very immature ways of being and thinking, and sometimes – (especially with the short chapters, which I liked, I hasten to add, it gave a crisp feel to the narrative and reflected the channel-hopping nature of the internet which is a very strong theme in the book) – there was a slight patina of the Young Adult genre overlaying the story.  Overall, an interesting plot from an author who has talent, who handles sensitive topics with aplomb, and clearly goes for hard hitting plots.

It will be really interesting to see where she goes next.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

You can follow L V Hay on Twitter and Facebook and check out her website

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Love crime in Brighton? Try Peter James “Dead Man’s Footsteps

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