The Life I Left Behind

Written by Colette McBeth

Review written by Maureen Carlyle

The Life I Left Behind
Headline Review
RRP: £13.99
Released: January 1, 2015
Trade Pbk

This is a murder story with a cast of characters who are well-to-do thirty somethings participating in a consumerist lifestyle in a wealthy London suburb.

One of their number has survived a vicious attack on her life, and has become a nervous wreck as a result.

The story is told from the points of view of different female characters, including a Detective Inspector in the local branch of the Met.  One of the other young women narrates her tale in the first person, and differs from the others in that she is dead.  This approach could fail dismally, but Colette McBeth handles it skilfully and you can almost believe it.

The body of a young, beautiful blonde woman is discovered by a man walking his dog on Ham Common.  In her hand is a gold chain necklace with a bird in a cage as a pendant.  The crime appears to be a copycat version of another a few years earlier upon Melody, who not only bears a close physical resemblance to the new victim, but was also found with a gold birdcage chain identical to the one on the murder victim.  The difference is that this woman is dead, whereas Melody miraculously survived.

Melody from the time of her attack is a totally changed character from the happy-go-lucky girl that she was before.

She now lives in a very expensive house in the country, built for her by her fiancé, Sam, a wealthy young specialist at a nearby hospital.  They plan to marry in a few months.  But Melody won't go outside the house on her own, and Sam has built a high wall round the house and garden so that she cannot even see the outside world.  She spends her days buying household goods she doesn't really want on the internet, and her only company apart from Sam, who works long hours anyway, is a female personal trainer who keeps her physically fit.

The police arrested David, Melody's next-door neighbour at the time, but were unable to prove attempted murder because the evidence was mainly circumstantial.  He has nonetheless spent several years in prison for grievous bodily harm.  He was released a few days before the murder.  The police draw the obvious conclusion and he is re-arrested.

The ensuing drama is completely absorbing if you can accept the supernatural element.  Personally I found the participants rather hard to take, due to their  lifestyles which seem to lack any sort of morality or empathy.  It seems you have to be dead to discover the truth.

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