Source: Review copy
Publication: 7 July 2022 from Quercus
My thanks to Quercus for an advance copy for review
Twelve-year-old Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose, move to London from Massachusetts where they meet the charismatic Matty Melgren, who quickly becomes an intrinsic part of their lives. But as the relationship between the two adults fractures, a serial killer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose.
When Matty is eventually sent down for multiple murder, questions remain as to his guilt — questions which ultimately destroy both women. Nearly twenty years later, Sophie receives a letter from Battlemouth Prison informing her Matty is dying and wants to meet. It looks like Sophie might finally get the answers she craves. But will the truth set her free — or bury her deeper?
Victoria Selman’s Truly, Darkly, Deeply is a rare beast; an original fresh and compelling novel that drove me on from the very start. It’s immersive, propuls ive and absolutely gripping.
The story is straightforward enough. Would you know if you were living with a serial killer? Sophie is a young child just 12 years old, when her mother American Amelia-Rose meets Matty Melgren. Irish, charming and attentive, Matty is a bereavement Counsellor who also works in a local London Crisis Centre.
Sophie is struggling with all the changes her life has been going through. Her father left her and her mother without so much as a goodbye. Her mother moves to London for a fresh start but Sophie, already feeling so much loss is a fish out of water in her new school where everything is different, even the spelling at which she used to excel.
So when the charming Matty moves into their lives, Sophie is a little captivated.
When several women are murdered near Amelia-Rose and Sophie’s home in North London – and those women bear a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose, it takes a long time for the police to track down the perpetrator. Matty is arrested and charged, all the while protesting his innocence.
Truly, Darkly, Deeply is told by Sophie as she waits to meet Matty, now a convicted serial killer, in Battlemouth Prison. As she prepares to see Matty, who has pancreatic cancer, for the first time since his incarceration, she thinks back to all the events that lead to this moment.
Were there signs? Interpreting events after the fact is a nightmare game and it’s a rabbit hole both Sophie and her mother go down with terrible frequency. Everyone thinks it must have been obvious; of course they know. How could they not?
But the truth is that, 20 years later, Sophie is still not 100% sure Matty is guilty. And that’s why she’s here, waiting to see him. Because she has to know.
What she does know is that serial killer or not, he has destroyed their lives. Not in the same way that the women and the child he killed were slain, but Sophie and Amelia–Rose were destroyed just the same.
Victoria Selman spins a fascinating web of lies, deceit and chilling, deathly dread mixed with warmth, charm and flattery to create a vivid portrait of a family that combusts after Matty is arrested and charged with multiple murders.
Verdict: Truly, Darkly, Deeply is a terrifically vivid and genuinely chilling read that held me fast all the while I was reading it. It has empathy, chills and a few really unexpected moments that all add up to an engrossing, exceptional and wholly captivating read. Highly recommended.
Victoria Selman is the author of the critically acclaimed Ziba MacKenzie series. Her debut novel, Blood for Blood, was shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award and an Amazon Charts #1 bestseller for five weeks, selling over half a million copies. Victoria has written for the Independent, co-hosts Crime Time FM with Barry Forshaw (Financial Times critic) and Paul Burke (editor of NB Magazine), compiles the Afraid of the Light charity anthology series and was shortlisted for the 2021 CWA Short Story Dagger Award.