Source: Review copy
Publication: Out now in e-book and in paperback on 14 April 2022
My thanks to Orenda Books and Michael J. Malone for an advance copy for review
Scarred by their pasts, Jenna and Luke fall in love, brimming with hope for a rosy future. But someone has been watching, with chilling plans for revenge …
Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships.
Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner’s young son, following a devastating tragedy.
When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need.
And yet, someone is watching.
Someone who has been scarred by past events.
Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge…
Quicksand of Memory….an intriguing title that would not be out of place on a Bond movie. But this is no Bond movie. It is, however, a beautifully written, riveting piece of fiction that has many of the thrills and chills you’d experience watching the same.
What Michael Malone does so well is to take a dark story and make it super creepy, but at the same time imbuing his characters with emotions that touch the reader and make them so three dimensional that you feel as if you know them.
What you get are rounded characters to whom you can’t apply a straightforward black and white, good and bad analysis. None of these characters is perfect. Each is a product of their background, but each has handled that background differently.
Luke came out of prison and is working hard to re-build his life and to do something worthwhile. His past is dark and despite his best efforts, full of tragedy and he feels shame and remorse for the events that led him to be incarcerated. Now released, he is serious in his intent to make a good life and he is spurred on to achieve that by Nathan, a young lad whose mother sadly died, leaving Luke to bring him up.
Jenna works in a bookshop. She got led astray by a handsome but reckless and dangerous young man and has been paying the consequences ever since. When Luke and Jenna meet, the attraction is instant and the pair begin a tentative relationship. But both are concealing their own dark secrets, so what chance do they have of making a lasting relationship?
Someone is watching and that someone is determined that will never happen. Who they are and why they feel that way is something Malone handles with care and sensitivity, but the result is raw, shocking and full of emotion.
The one who waits in the dark and watches is compulsive and not a little obsessed, but even that is only a part of the story. What they have suffered; the losses they have experienced has left deep scars that do not heal, but remain to be picked at until they hurt some more. As you listen to that voice, the malice burrows its way into your brain.
Quicksand of Memory is a thriller, but it is also so much more. It burrows into the psyche of characters revealing toxic masculinity; a desire for revenge so hot it burns and a recognition that the building bricks of what makes you the person you become can be layered in different ways and the choices you make will influence the final design.
There’s intensity to Malone’s writing that sends chills down your spine. His characters feel and they let their feelings spill over into action. Not always wise, but each action and its consequence has its roots in what went before and Malone lays out the back story with compassion and understanding, so you can’t help but feel sorry for all those whose lives have been blighted by the past.
Verdict: Quicksand of Memory is a tautly written revenge tragedy about secrets, lies and the past coming back to haunt you. It is a beautifully conceived and brilliantly plotted exposition of the fact that in order to move forward, you first have to examine the past, confront it and make peace with it. You won’t forget these characters on a hurry. A highly recommended must read.
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan; and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. Since then, he’s written two further thought-provoking, exquisitely written psychological thrillers In the Absence of Miracles and A Song of Isolation, cementing his position as a key proponent of Tartan Noir and an undeniable talent. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.