Source: Review copy
Publication: 7th March 2019 from Michael Joseph
With just one look, she knows how and when you will die . . .
Nothing surprises Adam Brandt anymore. As a forensic psychologist, he’s seen and heard everything.
That is, until he meets Kassie.
Because she claims to have a terrible gift – with one look into your eyes, she can see when and how you will die.
Adam doesn’t believe her, obviously.
But then a serial killer starts wreaking havoc across the city, and only Kassie seems to know where he’ll strike next.
Against all his intuition, Adam starts to believe her.
He just doesn’t realise how dangerous this trust might be . . .
I’m a huge fan of Matt Arlidge and his D.I. Helen Grace series, so when I heard he was writing a stand-alone, I knew it would be high on my list of books to read this year. So I was more than delighted when it turned out to be a big book, a 480 page turner.
Now size doesn’t really matter, but when you love the characters and the plot is thrilling, then it’s good to know you’re in for a decent read and A Gift For Dying does not disappoint on any measure.
I recently saw M.J. Arlidge on a panel at Noireland in Belfast where he remarked that generally he ‘eviscerated more men than women’. I always think that’s the sign of a good author; when they are making sure that they are keeping count to ensure that they are equal opportunities eviscerators.
Arlidge writes really well drawn women. In A Gift For Dying, set in Chicago, Kassie is a young woman haunted with a gift she would really much rather not have. A young woman who knows, just by looking, how people are going to die and who can, in extreme circumstances, also feel that death as it happens.
Adam is a forensic psychologist to whom Kassie is referred. He can’t of course, accept what Kassie is telling him, buit at the same time, he makes a connection with her that he just can’t give up on. With a much longed for baby on the way, he and his artist wife, Faith are looking forward to a happy life ahead.
Detective Gabrielle Grey is riding high as lead Detective in charge of the Homicide Squad in Chicago PD. But it’s a short fall from riding high to disgrace and the way things are going, Gabrielle is going to have to keep all her wits about her if she is to catch Chicago’s newest serial killer.
With this mix of excellent characters and a sick and twisted serial killer on the loose, I was utterly transfixed and enthralled. Utilising all the benefits that a stand-alone offers, Arlidge has produced a gruesome and gripping story that kept me on edge all the way through to the end of the book.
I really enjoyed M.J. Arlidge’s venture into the stand-alone world and I for one hope it is the start of many – though I’m still up for many more of Helen Grace, too.
Verdict: Dark, twisted, gritty and chilling thriller with an explosive end.
M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including the prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and Silent Witness. Arlidge also pilots original crime series for both UK and US networks and is currently working on a major adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans for the BBC.