After You Die by Eva Dolan – review

Published by Harvill Secker

Publication date 14 January 2016

Source – review copy


4 of 5 stars

“Dawn Prentice was already known to the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit.

The previous summer she had logged a number of calls detailing the harassment she and her severely disabled teenage daughter were undergoing. Now she is dead – stabbed to death whilst Holly Prentice has been left to starve upstairs. DS Ferreira, only recently back serving on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty, had met with Dawn that summer. Was she negligent in not taking Dawn’s accusations more seriously? Did the murderer even know that Holly was helpless upstairs while her mother bled to death?

Whilst Ferreira battles her demons, determined to prove she’s up to the frontline, DI Zigic is drawn into conflict with an official seemingly resolved to hide the truth about one of his main suspects. Can either officer unpick the truth about mother and daughter, and bring their killer to justice?”

There has been an explosion in a house in the village of Elton. Luckily no one was home. But the explosion uncovers the brutal murder of Dawn Prentice in the house next door. Upstairs, left to die, is Dawn’s daughter, Holly, severely disabled after an accident. Ferreira was aware of the family, having visited Dawn the previous summer after she reported harassment. Now Ferreira, Zigic and the rest of the hate crime team must look into the murders. Who wanted Dawn dead and hated Holly so much they would leave her to die alone?

There is something abhorrent about hate crimes, something that makes them more despicable. The perpetrators are bullies in essence, cowards who can’t handle someone who is different to them so choose to use violence and intimidation in a vain attempt at making themselves feel better. Eva Dolan has taken an emotive and controversial topic and dealt with it in a respectful and non-gratuitous way. There is no sugar-coating and there shouldn’t be. There is no preaching. It is in places moving, in others evokes anger at the ignorance of people and how they express their feelings. The book tackles a range of emotive topics including online trolling or bullying and assisted suicide, with respect and care, making insightful observations of today’s society.

I loved the dynamic between Zigic and Ferreira. Their partnership worked well together, neither one taking too much of the ‘spotlight’, each bringing with them their own strengths. Zigic to me seemed more grounded, more considered, but not afraid to let his emotions take over if necessary. Ferreira is the more tempestuous of the two, prone to allowing her emotions control her more perhaps and stubborn to the point where it could become dangerous. That said, we meet Ferreira in After You Die coming to terms with injuries suffered in a traumatic event and this has had some impact on how she is as a person, even if she isn’t willing to admit it.

Eva Dolan knows how to deftly tell a story that draws the reader in and keeps them hooked until the end. It is a story that creeps under your subconscious and compels you to read on.

This is the third novel in the Zigic and Ferreira series. I would advise reading them in order if you want to read them all as there is mention of a previous case in this novel.

This is the first Zigic and Ferreira novel I have read but it won’t be the last. I’m looking forward to reading more about these characters, rounding out the team and seeing if my first impressions fit. Thankfully I have the first two books in the series to read whilst I wait for book four.

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