Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all well. Today I’m posting my review of Vicky Newham’s debut novel, ‘Turn A Blind Eye’. The novel was actually released into the world today (5th April 2018), and I am also due to take part in the blog tour for this book, so watch this space! So, here goes…
A dead girl.
A wall of silence.
DI Maya Rahman is running out of time.
A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:
I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.
At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.
Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Includes references to mental illnesses, including self-harm and suicide. Also contains references to arranged/forced marriages and pregnancy issues.
‘Turn A Blind Eye’ was released on 5th April and is the first addition to the DI Maya Rahman series, as well as being Vicky Newham’s debut novel. Psychologist Vicky Newham grew up in West Sussex and taught in East London for many years, before moving to Kent. She is currently working on the next book in the DI Maya Rahman series.
The novel has received lots of positive praise from fellow authors, for example from Paul Finch: “A remarkable portrayal of a crime investigation in modern, multi-cultural Britain”, Karen Dionne: “A current, timely police procedural featuring a DI like none you’ve ever seen” and Amanda Jennings: “An assured and beautifully crafted debut, rich with the glorious cultural diversity that typifies its East End setting.”
‘Turn A Blind Eye’ opens with the murder of headteacher Linda Gibson, who is strangled in the East London school. A mysterious Buddhist precept is found at the crime scene, translating to “I shall abstain from taking the ungiven”. DI Maya Rahman and the team struggle to understand this brutal murder, but then a second murder is committed. Will they find the killer before he strikes again?
The narrative is told from the first person accounts of Maya, Steve, Dan and the murderer, with each chapter alternating between them. The present day narrative begins on 3rd January 2018 and spans over the course of a week. There are also flashbacks to Maya’s troubled childhood. The narrative is told with much variety, making for a wholesome and enriching read.
The protagonist of the novel is DI Maya Rahman. She’s ambitious and determined to solve these bizzare murders, wishing to provide safety and protection for those around her. She’s hard-working and will not let anything stand in the way of her catching the killer. However, she has also had a troubling, traumatic childhood, and this still very much affects her in the present day. She struggles to keep her own emotions and problems under wraps and focus solely on the investigation, making her an extremely realistic and believable character.
The other main characters in the novel are Steve and Dan. Steve is a brand-new teacher at the school, and he stumbles upon the headteacher’s body on his first day. He’s deeply shaken and grieved by the news, and worries for the safety of those around him. His perspective offers an interesting insight into the lives of the school staff. DS Dan Maguire is Maya’s colleague and offers a fresh perspective to the investigation. He’s clever and strong-willed, and together her and Maya make a strong team. Other characters in the novel include families of the victims, various school staff and other members of the police force. All the characters bring something fresh and exciting to the novel.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** This novel addresses the theme of mental illness in some detail, including making references to self-harm and suicide. Many of the characters in the novel have experienced trauma to some degree, and this is explored at length. The novel also addresses the theme of arranged/forced marriages present in some cultures and discusses the ethics of this. Pregnancy issues are also referred to in the book. If any of these issues may be distressing to you as a reader, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors forwards, it’s a race against time for DI Maya Rahman and the team to find the killer before he strikes again. They must piece together the significance of the Buddhist precepts left at the crime scenes and work out who may be targeted next. The community and school struggle to cope with the deaths of the staff, and they must decide whether the school is now safe.
So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s a dramatic end scene in which DI Maya Rahman figures out who the killer is, but will she get to him before it’s too late?! My eyes were glued to the pages during the ending, and I couldn’t wait to see how it would all pan out. I felt many different emotions at the ending – sadness, anger, happiness… it was an intense rollercoaster ride! I was very satisfied with the ending and the way events were resolved.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy murder-mystery Crime Fiction, especially those of you who are interested in representations of multi-cultural communities and characters. The novel has all the ingredients to be the perfect thriller. I personally felt that it was very slow at the beginning, and only really started to get into it towards the end, so that would be my only criticism with the book. But still, a very good read!
Happy reading 🙂