Source: Review Copy
Publication: Century on 4 January 2018
Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted.
A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release.
But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all …
I am absolutely delighted to be able to host an extract of this stunning new novel, which appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller list of Fiction Hardbacks. Amy won the Daily Mail’s first novel competition with this book and when you have read it, it is easy to see why.
In this extract, Samantha writes to introduce herself to Dennis, the death row inmate on whose behalf she has been campaigning…
My name’s Samantha. I’m a 31‑year-old schoolteacher from England and I know you’re innocent. It feels weird to write to you, I’ve never done this before, written a letter to someone I haven’t met. I know people must write to you all the time and say the same things, like, ‘Your story really moved me,’ and, ‘I can’t stop thinking about it,’ but your story really did move me and I really can’t stop thinking about it. There are so many people out here, Dennis, all working hard to prove you’re innocent. I wish I could help but I just don’t know what I can do. If there’s anything you need please tell me, even if it’s something small; I’ll do my best.
It feels strange to know so much about you and you to know nothing about me, so I’ll tell you a bit just so we can even things up a little. I live alone; my grandmother died three years ago and left me her house, so my mother hates me even more than she already did (if that’s possible).
Like you I’m a bit of a black sheep in my family. I hope that doesn’t sound bad, I mean people don’t understand us because we’re different to them, not because we actually did anything wrong.
My grandmother always understood me, she was more like a mother to me, really, and I haven’t healed from losing her yet. Maybe this is why your story hit me so hard. I’m newly single (it wasn’t a good break‑up) and I hate my job. Some days I wake up early and I can’t even move, I just lie there wishing it could stay that inky-light time of day forever. I’m probably saying too much but it feels good to actually be saying it to someone.
I’ll understand if you don’t write back, you must have so many letters, but I just wanted you to know there are lots of us thinking about you. We’re all really excited about the new documentary: it sounds stupid to say but as soon as I heard about it I just felt this new sense of hope, almost a certainty that this time you could get your retrial. Are you excited? (Sorry if this is a stupid question.)
I hope I hear from you, you always write such thoughtful letters to people (they post them online, people really love to know you’re doing well, in spite of everything) and I would love to write to you again, if you wanted me to.
About Amy Lloyd
Amy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Her writing combines her fascination with true crime and her passion for fiction. The Innocent Wife is her first novel and was borne out of a course module in university. She lives in Cardiff with her partner and two cats.
You can follow Amy on @AmyLLoydWrites
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