Source: Review copy
Publication: 14 April 2022 from Zaffre
My thanks to Zaffre and Compulsive Readers for an opportunity to review for the blog tour
Mortuary technician Cassie Raven believes the last thoughts of the dead linger like static in the air…
Cassie has always had a strange affinity with death, ever since her parents were killed in a car crash when she was four. At least that’s what she grew up believing…
But that was a lie. Cassie’s father is alive. He was convicted of murdering her mother and spent years behind bars. Now he’s out – and he’s looking for her.
He swears he didn’t do it. And Cassie wants to believe him.
To find the truth, she must turn detective. As she seeks answers, help is to be found in inexplicable places – for the dead are ready to talk.
I absolutely adored Body Language, the first in this series about Cassie Raven, Senior mortuary technician, goth and body whisperer – and this second outing with Life Sentence does not disappoint.
This time the case is much more personal as Cassie Raven is driven by a re-appearance from her past to look into the murder of her mother; a murder for which her father was convicted. Not that Cassie knows any of this.
Cassie’s grandmother, Weronika, who took her in after her mother’s murder, has always been tight lipped about her mother’s death, telling her only that her parents both died in a car accident but spitting out her hatred for Cassie’s father whom she portrays as a violent drunk.
Cassie is also trying to understand what would drive a young boy to take his own life. The most recent visitor to her mortuary is a young goth who seems to have no clear reason for committing suicide. His parents are distraught, blaming themselves, but Cassie imagines this young man speaking to her and she instinctively knows there’s more to his story than she can immediately see.
Cassie Raven is a great character; highly empathetic, individually minded, she has strength of character and an interesting array of friends. She’s not without her flaws, either. A tendency to drink too much when stressed and to sample the more illicit wares that Camden has to offer are vices she’s going to have to control if her sleuthing skills are going to pay off.
When Cassie discovers the facts of her mother’s death she is, of course, determined to find out everything she can, without upsetting her grandmother, though she can’t really understand why she kept the secret for so many years.
With the help of some friends, Cassie begins the deep dive into her mother’s past and what she discovers is both eye opening and very disconcerting. There will no doubt be repercussions from this investigation that will ripple through Cassie’s life for some time.
Cassie’s relationship with DS Phyllida Flyte also takes a more personal tone as both women need each other to help them investigate important moments in the other’s lives.
Verdict: Life Sentence is a character driven slow burn of a book and none the worse for that. I loved Cassie’s second outing which gave me even more of a sense of her character and steadfast resoluteness when it comes to standing by her friends. She is a terrific protagonist and a character I have very quickly come to love. A.K. Turner’s writing pulls you in with its edgy style and intricate plotting and doesn’t let go. This is a series with huge potential that has become unmissable in only two books.
A.K.’s first foray into crime fiction was a detective thriller trilogy, written under the pen name Anya Lipska, following the adventures of Janusz Kiszka, tough guy and fixer to London’s Polish community. The first of the trilogy led Val McDermid to select her for the prestigious New Blood panel at Harrogate Crime Festival. All three books won critical acclaim and are currently under option as a potential TV crime series.Set in a Camden morgue, A.K.’s new novels feature crime-solving Goth-girl mortuary attendant Cassie Raven. Cassie has already appeared in Cut and Paste, a crime short for BBC Radio 4, who are interested in commissioning further stories featuring the character.In her other life as a TV producer and writer, A.K. makes documentaries and drama-docs on subjects as diverse as the Mutiny on the Bounty, the sex lives of Neanderthals, and Monty Don’s Italian Gardens.