About The Book
When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…
When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought she knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger. Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…
Imagine being at the funeral of your spouse and being approached by a woman who tells you that you don’t really know your husband. This is the reality which Paula Gadd faces at the funeral of her husband Thomas who has died suddenly of a hear attack. She is initially reluctant to contact the woman who left a note with her telephone number but the curiosity and doubt starts to seep in leading her down a path of lies and revelations.
I was struck by Michael J. Malone’s sensitive and gentle way of writing about grief in After He Died. Paula and Thomas’ only son, Christopher died seven years earlier and the death of her husband leaves Paula alone in the large house which had once been a bustling family home. She aimlessly drifts from room to room, sleeps at odd hours, has no appetite and wraps herself in Thomas’ dressing gown so she can smell him. These passages were raw and visceral and I felt her loss keenly and felt quite emotional at times reading about her deep grief.
This grief propels her into action and she contacts Cara, the mysterious woman from the funeral. She knows things about Thomas and Christopher that terrify and bemuse Paula and yet, she and Cara forge a tentative friendship based on these deep, dark secrets. There is a deftness of touch in the way these truths are revealed with clues dropped tantalizingly and we are as much in the dark as Paula. She seeks comfort in family, particularly in Thomas’ two brothers one of whom, Joe, is a priest but it appears that they may also know more about her husband than she does. Just who was Thomas Gadd?
Family and loyalty is a main theme within this book. Paula is cast adrift without Thomas and her husband’s family are all she has left but there is a distinct distance between her and older brother-in-law Bill and his wife Daphne.It appears that for wealthy Thomas and Paula, money does not buy happiness. We become privy to Cara’s family and the social class that she has come from which is the exact opposite of Paula’s, yet, she has people she can rely on – who does Paula have? In fact, there are some great contrasts in the novel between affluence and poverty and I felt it was a great snapshot of life in a British city in 2018 with the two extremes living side-by-side.
This is a fast-paced read which kept me turning the pages with its twists and turns. Michael J. Malone withholds just enough information to make it bearable and I was furiously trying to work out how everything linked together. It is a wonderful piece of crime fiction and I also thought it was a compelling slice of social history highlighting injustices and the security and greed of money.
About The Author
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The
Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.
My thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the Blog Tour and for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. After He Died is out now in ebook and published today in paperback.
Make sure to check out the rest of the tour, details are beneath!