It Was Her by Mark Hill
Twenty years ago, Tatia was adopted into a well-off home where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.
Did she do it?
Tatia is cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Poppy. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she see families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while they are gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.
Did she kill them?
As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is threatening to destroy everything.
I was a big fan of Mark Hill’s debut novel His First Lie, as a psychological thriller it worked well to have so many added twists and turns. This new release is similar in that sense, but the plotline is completely different. This time we have a new potential baddie by the name of Tatia. Can DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley solve the case, whilst avoiding their own dark secrets?
One moment Will was there, and the next –
20yrs ago the Tatia Mamaladze was given the new name of Sarah and adopted into the Bliss family. Jill and Patrick Bliss are a politically ambitious couple and sought to expand their profile. However, it all went wrong one sunny day with a walk along the cliffs. Their life as they knew it was shattered and they were left to deal with the grief and pain of their 3yr son Will’s death. Siblings Poppy and Joel were ushered into the family fold, whereas Sarah was ostracised! Which left permanent scars, on her already fragile well-bring. Needless to say Tatia has never gotten over being the outcast. . .
The novel opens with the crime scene of murder victims of Simon and Melinda Harrow. They returned from their holiday early due to a work emergency, only to disrupt their burglar and were savagely beaten to death! The crime scene is a mess and there is evidence everywhere. Whoever did this is neither skilled nor even trying to hide their finger prints. The killer is brazen, with a clearly vicious temper.
‘Let’s hope Goldilocks has an alibi’ – Eddie Upson
Additionally, to the backstory of the Bliss family and present-day crimes, Flick is struggling to cope carrying the burden of Drake’s secret.
Will she expose them or keep it quiet?
The intruder murders – Goldilocks killings continue, with more victims discovered beaten to death in their own homes. When the killer eventually strikes at a home with children in bed. At the Judd residence the daughter Emily (5yrs) not only saw the killer but spoke to her and it is then revealed that the person she spoke to was female. The woman appeared caring in nature towards Emily and even tucked her back into bed after committing the murder of her parents. . .
‘Come along, Emily let me take you back to bed’
The novel then jumps from the current string of murders to the present-day Joel and Tatia. The pair live together with Tatia’s lover Carl. Joel appears immature and needy, he is submissive to Carl and lives under his rules. Tatia is protective of Joel and wants to have the ‘perfect family’. Whilst Carl is bossy and domineering. It is a bizarre set-up and one that is destined to spill over into violence.
‘Death, violence seemed to follow her everywhere’
The novels timeline moves around to show various stages in the aftermath of Will’s death. We learn that Sarah/Tatia was blamed for the death and most specifically by her adopted sister Poppy.
No matter how much she tries to impress upon Poppy, her mind is set. . .
‘Whatever deluded thought you have in your head, you are not, and never will be, part of our family’ – Poppy
The aftermath of Will’s death had huge ramifications for the family. Patrick would go onto become an alcoholic and commit suicide by hanging, to be discovered by his young son Joel. It is Tatia that continues to shoulder the blame for every misfortune that occurs to the family. But why? Is Tatia as evil as they say she is?
‘Tatia was a bad seed. Always was. Always will be’ – Poppy
This novel is a fast-paced rollercoaster of a ride. The toxic family, with toxic children that hide behind a middle-class façade builds to a dramatic ending for all concerned.
The various personalities of the Bliss family keep you guessing and guessing. It is clear to see, everything was far from bliss in that family. 4*