When three domestic abuse offenders are found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.
The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered. And he is Lucy’s husband.
Now the finger of suspicion points at Lucy and the police are running out of time. Can Maggie and her team solve the murders before another person dies? And is Lucy really a cold-blooded killer?
Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove!
Today, I’d love to talk to you about Dead Inside, Noelle Holten’s debut novel. I loved the premise of Dead Inside and I “knew” Noelle as a blogger, so I was thrilled to be approved for the eARC through NetGalley. Now with a website called “CrimeBookJunkie”, a career as probation officer on the one hand and PR / SM manager for Bookouture on the other, one would assume Noelle Holten knows all about crime and has an extensive list of all the magic ingredients it takes for a crime thriller to be a success. Knowing something, and bringing that knowledge to fruition, though, is something else entirely. So, frankly, to my mind, this could go either way. And so I was delighted to find myself totally absorbed in this book, loving the execution just as much as I loved the premise. Noelle had me smile, she had me well up, she put me through all the feels, and I loved every bit of it.
Lucy is a probation officer and as such she’s responsible (among other things) for preventing that the criminals in her care commit the same (or other) crimes again. Some of those criminals are guilty of domestic abuse. But what very few people realise, is that Lucy herself is a victim of domestic abuse too. She of all people should know better, shouldn’t she? And she does know better and she is in fact well aware of what her husband is doing to her. But there’s her step-daughter to consider, she can’t just leave the little girl to fend for herself, and what about her career, what would her colleagues say, her superiors? She’s damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t, so for the time being, she’s staying put. That entire scenario, Lucy’s inner turmoil, that feeling of being damned either way, felt very, very real and all too plausible. Admittedly, I have zero personal experience with this, something I thank my lucky stars for every time I read a book like this one, but Lucy’s thoughts and feelings are so realistic, and I do believe that in the same circumstances, I might well have the same thoughts and experience the same feelings. To me, what was even worse than the physical abuse, was the insidious psychological abuse, and the effect the physical abuse has on Lucy’s mental state. This is related rather stoically, almost devoid of emotions at times, and therefore all the more striking. This got under my skin so badly, I can’t even tell you.
In the meantime, there’s DC Maggie Jamieson, trying to find the person killing off domestic abusers. One of her superiors secretly wonders if these casualties can really be called victims, and whether the culprit shouldn’t be praised instead of hunted, and I tend to agree. No, obviously I don’t endorse murder! But I do confess to having a few wayward “good riddance” thoughts. This storyline is suspenseful, shocking at times, and I caught myself thinking along with Maggie and her team, trying to find the person responsible for the rather heinous murders, so when the perpetrator was comprehended it didn’t come as a huge surprise, but it was a satisfying reveal nonetheless. I especially liked that some background info was provided afterwards, explaining the killer’s motive and opportunity, but not in a pedantic way.
Overall, this is a very intense crime thriller, tackling a difficult theme with the utmost respect. I can’t wait to see what Noelle Holten comes up with next, and what DC Maggie Jamieson will have to face in the future! Highly recommended!
Dead Inside is out on 31 May! Pre-order here!
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the free eARC. All opinions are my own.