Lead Review

  • Book: Truly, Darkly, Deeply
  • Location: North London
  • Author: Victoria Selman

Review Author: Tina Hartas



This is publisher Quercus’ Lead Launch for 2022. it is also TripFiction’s Book of the Month July 2022; and what a cracker it is.

It is the early 1980s and Amelia Rose is living with her highly critical parents in Massachusetts, caring as a single mother for her young daughter Sophie. She decides to relocate to London in search of a better life, far away from her undermining family. Mother and daughter bag a small apartment north of the river Thames and she finds a job that will just about cover the cost of living in the metropolis.

She starts dating Matty, a charmer, a man who has the Irish gift of the gab, with lashings of charisma and good looks. He is unreliable, he invariably doesn’t turn up for arrangements made, but to Sophie, he is the surrogate father, the person in whom she can confide. He is, in the main, good to her, treats her like a princess but also shows signs of a controlling nature, disingenuously disguised as love. He is adept at turning the facts to suit what those around him want to hear.

The news is starting to be dominated by a series of murders of young women, occurring in the very area in which they live, and it appears there is a serial killer at work, who is given the moniker of The Shadow. Alarmingly, the victims seem, for the most part, to be spitting images of Sophie’s mother.

The novel is Sophie’s take on the 6 or so years spent within the family unit – both in real time and 20 years later – and how her attachment was built to this singular man in her life. Both mother and daughter at first idolised him and although his behaviour sometimes was questionable, Mum at first always rallied and generally wouldn’t hear a word said against him. Sophie couldn’t tolerate her mother berating him, in case he decided to abandon them. That is until things seem to click into place and a growing sense of misgiving takes over their lives.

The timeline moves between the early 2000s, approximately 20 years after Matty is sentenced for the murders of innumerable women and the early 1980s. We know at the beginning that he has been found guilty and been sentenced – at the Old Bailey no less – but there is a very strong and vociferous cohort who supports the clearly innocent man! The possibility of a miscarriage of justice looms large.

This is a story of a young girl stuck at the heart of a maelstrom, governed by her own needs as a child, trying to navigate her way through an incredibly complex adult world. She herself then becomes an adult and reflects on her history and how it has affected her. The dual timelines work very well and this is a gripping hit.

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