Bantam Press | June 2016 | 352 pgs
Sharon Bolton is one of my favourite authors. I adore her Lacey Flint series and while this book, Daisy in Chains, is a standalone, in my opinion it is very much on par with her LF series and what most drawn me to this story is the charismatic serial killer, Hamish Wolfe.
Now Hamish is not your typical monster in any other thrillers. For starters, he is good-looking, charming and used to be a leading cancer surgeon before he is convicted of murdering three women. As for the fourth woman, her body is never found and no one knew if she's alive or dead for she seemed to have disappeared into thin air after her family reported her missing. Why she is under Hamish's crimes is because she shared the common "evidence" of the other three victims - that they were all large sized women. While most of the UK nation fears and despises Hamish, there are people who feel he is innocent. Despite the label of being a murderer, Hamish gets countless letters from his "fans" every day; many of them are women and they proclaimed that he is the man of their dreams.
Maggie Rose is one of the women who is fascinated by Hamish but for a different reason. She is a successful lawyer and a bestselling true-crime writer. She is also reclusive and enigmatic and doesn't do interviews nor does she release her photograph to the media. No one really knows what she is like but in truth, Maggie looks to be forty and has a head of blue hair - bright, turquoise-blue hair that falls a little below her chin. But that is not all, Maggie is also well known of taking a few high profiled cases and had overturned the convictions. However, she is selective so that's why to-date she has only taken less than ten clients. Sandra Wolfe, who is Hamish's mother, approaches her after Maggie has saved her dog and invited her to meet the rest of the group who stands by Hamish.
On the other end, DS Pete Weston is the one who has had Hamish behind bars and he is going to make sure that Hamish remains in his cell for the rest of his life. However, Pete's personal life is less than rosy for his wife has left him for another man. That man is DCI Tim Latimer, who happens to be his superior.
What follows thereafter is the acquaintance between Pete and Maggie, and how they began to look into Hamish's case subsequently. Maggie has been taking some notes about Hamish all this while and though she has speculations about his innocence it is only a matter of time that Hamish would convince her through the letters he sent her.
Daisy in Chains is an extraordinary psychological thriller; one which I felt is intense and highly addictive once you started reading it. The plot and the characterisation are excellent in my opinion; and I found myself both crept out and fascinated by Hamish Wolfe at the same time. I don't think I've ever read a character very much like him. Intriguing, calm and charming, Hamish is the type of villain whom you'd feel some empathy at some point and then have you wonder if he is the man whom he claims he is. I couldn't blame Maggie if she decided to take on his case. Hamish is that kind of man - dangerous yet convincing so there are some doubts about him.
The story also contains some articles, correspondences between Maggie and Hamish, emails between Pete and Maggie, Maggie's notes on Hamish and two psychiatric reports on Hamish; all in all which I felt add interest to the already intriguing plot. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I think Hamish Wolfe will probably make it onto my most-intriguing-character list this year.
By the way, reading this book had me wondering about the fascination of some women (both fictional and in reality) towards the bad, evil men. Why is it that there are women who find them appealing? An article in Daisy in Chains (pg 82 - 83) stated:
"It isn't hard to understand the appeal of a relationship to a man serving time. A wife, or long-term girlfriend, will be an advocate for his cause, driving forward any appeal process. A steady relationship, and its accompanying permanent address, is considered a big advantage when the possibility of parole comes up. A regular visitor will bring money, food and other desirables. Letters and phone calls provide a much-needed break from the monotony of prison life. A prisoner with a woman, especially a good-looking one, gains automatic status within the prison, and there is always the erotic frisson of stolen sexual encounters during visits.
How though, does one explain the appeal for the woman? Why would any woman commit emotionally, and legally, to a man with whom she cannot possibly build a future? Esteemed psychologist Emma Barton explains it as the modern equivalent of medieval courtly love. 'Courtly love isn't real love,' she says. 'It's a romantic ideal. The perfect suitor adores his lady, gives her unconditional love and devotion, and expects nothing in return.' ... She doesn't have sex, but she has sexual tension in abundance and, for many women, it is the thrill of expectation, rather than the act itself, which is so very delicious. Desire is never replaced by duty-sex."