Thursday, 24 April 2014

Before you Die - Samantha Hayes

It's a privilege to be part of the Blog Tour organised by Philippa Cotton at Random House. I loved Samantha's last book Until You're Mine and when I heard she was publishing another I knew I had to read it and would love it - I wasn't wrong it was brilliant.

About the book....
Oh God, please don't let me die.

It has taken nearly two years for the Warwickshire village of Radcote to put a spate of teenage suicides behind it.

Then a young man is killed in a freak motorbike accident, and a suicide note is found among his belongings. A second homeless boy takes his own life, this time on the railway tracks.

Is history about to repeat itself?

DI Lorraine Fisher has just arrived for a relaxing summer break with her sister. Soon she finds herself caught up in the resulting police enquiry. And when her nephew disappears she knows she must act quickly.

Are the recent deaths suicide - or murder?

And is the nightmare beginning again?

About the author...
I grew up in the Midlands with my parents and younger brother. I always wanted to be a writer and pestered for my first typewriter when I was ten. It wasn’t a clear-cut path to my dream career and it took several decades longer to get there than I’d anticipated. But along the way I had many experiences, met a host of intriguing people, lived in several continents, met my husband, and had my three beautiful children.
Over the years I’ve worked as a private investigator, bar maid, car cleaner, fruit picker, accounts clerk, nursery nurse, waitress…and I learnt to fly a plane before I could drive a car because for a while I wanted to be a pilot.
I travelled the world and spent an eye-opening time living on a kibbutz, where, having always written as a child and teenager, I was inspired to write longer fiction. After some more backpacking and a stint living in London, I moved to Australia for three years, got married, and had a glorious time in Brisbane and Melbourne.
Between 1991 and 1998 I had my children. We lived in the UK and the USA, where my youngest daughter was born. After Seattle, we returned to England, finally settling back in my home county of Warwickshire, where we’ve since renovated several old houses.
Throughout the years, I always strived to improve my writing. In 2003 I won a short story competition and subsequently had a novel published by a small independent press. It’s out of print now. Since 2007 I have had four novels published by Headline under the name Sam Hayes—BLOOD TIES, UNSPOKEN, TELL TALE and SOMEONE ELSE’S SON.
I am now represented by Oli Munson at A M Heath Ltd and my books are published by Century and Arrow. This is my second my first being UNTIL YOU’RE MINE (the first in a new detective series based in Birmingham) and written as Samantha Hayes was published in June 2013.

Find out more about Samantha Hayes and her books on her Website or on Twitter
My thoughts...
It is fair to say that this book started with a bang.  There isn't a nice gentle introduction to this book you're straight into the action before the prologue ends.  Two teenagers crash a motorbike - one dies, one escapes the crash scene and lives! This situation is compounded by a suicide note that is found at the scene of the crash - this coming just a year after a spate of suicides of young people in the town - is it starting again? Even before the book had really begun I was thinking WOW - with such start like that this is going to be good.

Samantha doesn't disappoint she tackled the serious issues of cyber bullying and homelessness with sensitivity and compassion alongside relationships between both family and friends. The main story revolves around Freddie and his relationships with his family and his peers.  Jo his mother doesn't really see what is under her nose, she's aware something is wrong with Freddie but puts most of the signs down to him being a moody teenager. His aunt is a policewoman and lives for her job, rarely taking time out to holiday but has, along with her daughter returned to her original home for a rare visit. It is she that tackles everything that is happening head on - as policewoman she is never off duty and becomes involved in the police investigation surrounding the suicides both current and historically.

There are lots of plot twists and sub plots that originally seem separate with no connections  that had me guessing at possible solutions only to find I was wrong each time.  Samantha intricately stitched up this story like a patchwork quilt - all of the pieces once put together giving us a gut wrenching, heart pounding emotional story. There were so many characters in this book that it was difficult at first to see their relevance to the story but when it all came together the fog lifts leaving a clear picture and each and everyone has their place.

Sadly, there are far too many aspects of this book that are all to believable and true to life - things that we've all read about or seen on the news came across as real and not works of fiction. Samantha has clearly researched thoroughly and deals with these situations with compassion and sensitivity whilst at the same time tackling the subject head on. All of the characters were well rounded and believable from Lorraine the policewoman - never off duty to Jo the mother who avoids confrontation with her son, going instead for the 'burying her head in the sand' option, hoping that things will improve without actually doing anything to help matters herself.  Lets face it, all mothers I know have at some point or other chosen to let things go, to not push ensuring we avoid 'another' confrontation with a surly teenager. It's also true that we sometimes don't see what's under our nose - or do we choose not to see?

It's difficult to say too much about what happens within this book without giving the plot away but suffice to say I loved it.  It's different to her last novel but equally as good. I felt many emotions whilst reading this book some parts were distressing and genuinely heart breaking, whilst others raised my heart rate somewhat.  I felt deep affection for Freddie and kept willing him to stand up to his tormentors and to tell somebody about his problems. I also loved his aunt Lorraine and her can't leave it alone attitude. At the same time I wanted to shake his mother Jo - in my opinion she was far too accepting and was letting her own relationships cloud her judgement.  A sign of a good book for me is when I find myself reading faster and faster not wanting to switch off the light - despite being taken up and down the wrong path as in this book. I solved the many crimes and situations so many times only to discover I so hadn't!

This novel is in no way predictable in fact I was so far off the mark repeatedly and Samantha Hayes delivered surprise after surprise right up to the final chapter, in fact right up to the final few pages. A brilliant book for all Crime fans, that will leave you guessing and thinking long after the final page has been read. 

I gave this book 5/5 stars

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