One family, two holidays, one devastation secret.
To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seems to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks darker emotions.
Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible…
And suspicion is a dangerous thing.
A dead body slumped over a desk. A tiny needle mark. An unrepentant observer. From the very first page, Chris Brookmyre’s latest standalone novel, Fallen Angel, creates an unsettling tension. Clearly, there has been a murder but discovering the identity of both victim and killer, and the reasons behind this sinister opening scene will take the rest of the book to discover.
Fallen Angel is the perfect thriller for packing in your suitcase and taking away with you to sunnier shores this year. The seaside villas inhabited by the Temple family epitomise the flawless luxury of their world. But beneath the apparently still waters of the Temple family, the ripples of a sixteen-year-old tragedy are about to break into turbulent waves. It gave me all the vibes of Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove, with a similarly heady mix of sun, sea, and secrets.
Given that none of the characters in Fallen Angel are particularly likeable, Brookmyre has done an excellent job of keeping the reader engaged with them. Watching the Temple family, in both their 2002 and their 2018 incarnations, is a little like watching a car crash in slow motion. As the reader, you’re unable to look away even as their lives spiral out of control. And, at the heart of it all, is a dark and terrible family secret and the tragic death of a little girl. Once all the threads are unravelled, there’s a chilling twist in this tale and plenty of scenes that pack an emotional punch along the way.
Combining a dark humour with gradual increases in tension, Brookmyre uses multiple viewpoints and dual timelines to provide a hazy picture, ensuring the reader is only ever able to gradually piece together the mystery that lies at the heart of Niamh Temple’s disappearance. Excerpts from patriarch Max Temple’s book on conspiracy theories are scattered throughout the book, providing tantalising glimpses of the larger narrative without ever giving the game away. It’s assured and accomplished writing that makes for easy and enjoyable reading.
Packed with intrigue and dark secrets, Fallen Angel is a complex and sophisticated thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the closing act. Cleverly weaving together the two timelines, this is a compelling narrative. And with some deliciously dark characterisation, Fallen Angel is a perfect read for ensuring that you keep the pages turning by the pool this summer!
Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre is published by Little Brown and is available now in hardback and ebook from all good booksellers and online retailers, including Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, and Amazon. My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.