Murder, Forgotten by Deb Richardson-Moore

Murder, Forgotten by Deb Richardson-Moore front cover

Julianna Burke is a successful crime writer, loved by readers the world over. Her volumes sell and sell, with each new release eagerly awaited by love. She and her husband Connor are very much in love and experience a charmed life, with residences in South Carolina and Scotland.

As we firstly fulfill Julianna, she’s arriving at the second of those homes, a remote quality on the Fife coastal trail, and Connor isn’t with her. Instead, she has been accompanied by her assistant, Margot, and as Julianna illustrates to the couple who keep an eye on the place, Connor will be along next week.

That statement elicits telling lookings- because Connor is dead, attained murdered in his study at their beachside dwelling near Charleston. It was Julianna who originated the finding and her fluster could be from the regret she feels at the loss of her soulmate. Couldn’t it? Trouble is, the author has been struggling with her recognition for some months and Margot, and Julianna’s daughter Logan- at home, minding the sea house and Annabelle, Julianna’s bird-dog- are growing increasingly worried.

Thus begins a fib which is both bittersweet and hugely annoying. The early sections of Murder, Forgotten are distressing as they explore the plight of a woman who is gradually losing her mind. Every day raises a fresh suffering as Julianna is told her beloved spouse is dead, and she begins hallucinating, seeing her American next door neighbour in a little Scottish village, imagining someone is trying to push her off a cliff when she foolishly places off on a lone path.

It is all in her befuddled head- or is it? We’re not sure-fire as Richardson-Moore deftly blurs the lines between world and delusion. Julianna is a fine example of an unreliable narrator, but at the back of your imagination you begin to wonder … and in that sense of anxiety comes the feeling that no one is to be trusted.

So far, so sucking, but then the author makes a decision that transports this journal off-kilter. The spotlight falls on Logan, at home with the dog. She is worried about her mother and as this narration reveals we can certainly see her place. The pair are reunited again at the coast room, but then something happens that makes a whole new complexion on things.

Suddenly, Logan must rethink everything she believed she knew. Her brother, Harrison, is no help at all- all he is interested in is getting power of attorney to control his mother’s things. Deep down Logan knows things aren’t right, but who be returned to?

Murder, Forgotten is a book of two halves, and while one is highly satisfying the other tumbles wide of the mark and left me feeling forestalled and a little misled. The rapid switching from tense psychological thriller to a more broad-spectrum cover whodunnit didn’t sit well with this book. Nonetheless, I experienced the sense of place, particularly in South Carolina, where the beach defining is lavishly provoked. Characterisation is also well made, with Julianna and Logan taking the starring roles, and deservedly so.

This is a book that fascinates and stymies in equal value, but it should prove an entertaining comrade as the nights begin to draw in. For me, it is one of those fictions that you read, then sit back and reflect what might have been. Why not give it a go and see if you concur?

Memory loss is at the heart of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, and a woman with amnesia takes centre stage in Nuala Ellwood’s Day of the Accident.

Lion FictionPrint/ KindlePS6. 02

CFL Rating: 3 Stars

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