AFTER THE FIRE

Karen Campbell

Hodder pbk Ł7.99

Released February 18th 2010

Reviewer: Fiona Messenger

 

Fiona Messenger, or “honestfi“, is “probably” the biggest Mike Ripley Angel fan on the net, and the tablets don’t seem to be working.  She tried therapy by writing a website www.thatangellook.co.uk, but that didn’t work either.  By day she’s a Payroll Consultant, other times she blogs, she writes, she reads, she enjoys making people laugh. 

 

Jamie Worth, a newly qualified firearms officer is called to a disturbance at a house where a teenage girl is alleged to have a gun.  In the chaos, he shoots and kills the girl, but there is no trace of a gun anywhere in the vicinity.  Traumatised already, the nightmare has only just started, as finds himself accused of murder.   Imprisoned, Jamie needs all his wits and strength as he is far from safe inside.  Do Cath and ex-lover Anna have enough will and courage to seek justice for Jamie? 

The most powerful crime dramas always arise from emotive stories in the media; the bravest are born out of telling the opposite story to the one commonly told.  Karen expertly weaves her prose so well, that you feel yourself living, breathing and even sympathising with the characters; from the heartache of the fatherless children and their mother, to Jamie’s plight of being on the wrong side of the prison doors and indeed in fear for his life.  So powerful, you can hear all the characters speak in their Glaswegian dialects and feel all their highs and lows.  Karen is not afraid to write about a few potential weaknesses in the police force she used to be employed by; proving they are as human as the rest of us. 

The novel is thought-provoking and engaging, ideal book club fodder which could fuel much debate about miscarriages of justice and the sympathy that is not often levelled at the relatives of accused and convicted criminals.  However, albeit I am a quick reader, this book is very long and constantly squeezes, painfully, at your emotions, until at times you feel like shouting at it – enough already!  Yet, still you turn the pages, knowing that surely it has to get better. 

And of course it does – which brings me to the one criticism I have of the book – the ending.  You know early on just how it will end, but that’s okay, you want the inevitable conclusion.  A satisfactory ending then; of course, but umm…that’s it, just satisfactory.  After taking you through over 400 pages of trauma, the novel comes to a crunching full stop, a disappointment after so many pages of clever and creative prose.  Too many questions are left unanswered, too many loose ends still to be tied up, and although I suspect that Karen will probably follow these through into her next novel, that’s not the point; human nature needs some sort of revenge after such a ride, but she quietly tucks away the real perpetrators of Jamie’s plight with no song or dance.   Okay, so maybe this is more true life than not, but you do end up feeling somewhat….wanting.  That said, I look forward to her next novel, the woman has real talent for shaking your emotions, and just why do we find that pleasurable?

 


 

 

 


 

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