Killing me Softly – Nicci French (1999)

Firstly I apologise for no blog post for the past two weeks, everything has been catching up with me! And there will be spoilers within this review – proceed with caution!

I picked up the book at a charity store and I must say I was greatly surprised by its content. Having only read one of her books previously Until it’s Over (2009) I knew that she dealt with a different angle when looking at crimes. The final chapters of Until it’s Over follow the murderer himself and explain why he felt he needed to commit the crimes, and while we never enter the mind of Adam in Killing me Softly we get a clear picture of his mental state through Alice’s investigations and conversations.

I would describe the book as a psychological thriller as the reader is led with Alice into further sexual abuse and depravation. Having never read a book in depth into this subject matter I was left slightly disturbed by its content but also educated at how easily a person can fall into such a state. As Alice leaves her previous life behind her with Jake for Adam the changes in her appearance and behaviour and not subtly handled, but placed strategically and obviously within the novel. This is an noticeable attempt to make the reader sit up and take notice at what it happening. These interjections feel out of place in the flow of the novel which could be an attempt to mimic the sudden awareness that people have when seeing a situation like this develop. As Alice apparently spirals into her own conceived madness her friends while trying to help are unable to do so, she has abandoned herself to Adam and his depravity to a live of loneliness.

As the reader only gains access to Adam’s past through Alice’s observations for me, personally, he never fully develops as a character which I think adds to his lack of character (if you understand my meaning). The reader is never truly sure of Adam while for obvious reasons it is also thanks to French’s writing of him. His demise at the end of the book (there’s that spoiler!) upon reflection is the natural progression of events but seems anticlimactic compared to the build-up that precedes it.

The book overall was not necessarily an enjoyable read due to its content but it was interesting to see how the subject matter was handled by an author I am not used to. Disturbing at times and frightening at others it shows the lengths some people will go to to keep their relationship going even when the doubts start to set in. I don’t think it’s a book I will read again soon but when I fancy delving into a psychological thriller I will be sure to pick it up.

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