First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Mark Edwards, and Amazon Publishing UK for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
The series that first pulled me into the web of Mark Edwards’ writing is finally coming to an end. Perhaps one of his most eerie psychological thriller series, The Magpies, pushed an unsuspecting couple—Jamie and Kirsty Knight—to the brink. After a harrowing few pieces, this novella seeks to tie it all together. After their horrible experience at the hands of their neighbour, Lucy Newton,, Jamie and Kirsty are no longer on speaking terms, having gone their separate ways. Jamie is still trying to bring closure to things, made all the more difficult when Lucy escaped from prison in a past story. Now on the lam, Jamie seeks to find her, trolling through the various fan sites that have arisen, parsing through the comments of the ‘Newtonites’ to find the woman who has wreaked such havoc. Jamie turns to a podcaster with much experience bringing justice in a world where knee-jerk solutions appear to be the norm. As Jamie and Emma Fox begin their trek to find Lucy, the official story remains untold, at least from the victims’ perspective. Lucy published her tell-all, citing innocence, which the public devoured in short order, but Jamie has yet to really seek to tell his version of events. When he approaches Kirsty with the idea, she is anything but happy, even though she would love nothing more than to put the Lucy narrative to rest. When Emma follows a lead and falls off the grid, Jamie cannot help but wonder if she has finally found Lucy. Now it’s time to decide, follow the digital breadcrumbs and potentially face Lucy, or ignore it and hope Lucy truly does disappear forever? The choice is surely not easy! Edwards does well with this finale, though using the novella format, he may have inadvertently rushed things and left series fans a little deflated. Still, I’d recommend this one for fans of the Magpies collection, if only to get a sense of closure.
Mark Edwards does well with his writing, usually able to pull the reader into the middle of things from the get-go. His Magpies series seems to have garnered the most fame for him, as I have seen scores of people speaking about it and anticipating new work on the subject of Lucy Newton. He’s gone so far as to reference her in his other work, for the attentive reader. With this piece, Edwards must not only tie-off loose ends, but also work to deliver new information to keep the reader hooked. Working with the Jamie Knight and Kirsty characters, their past pain and anguish is less of a discussion point here, but rather the attempt to get closure. The reader has little time to really see what they have been doing to bide their time since the last instalment, as it would seem trying to bring normalcy is the sole item on the agenda. Lucy Newton’s character finally gives us some of the context series fans have been searching for. Edwards injects unpublished chapters of her memoir into the novella, offering backstory about her childhood and courting by Chris Newton. While brief and sometimes only tangential, the curious reader can learn something here and is able to find a nugget or two on which to feast. The story flowed well and seemed rapid, taking the reader on quite the ride in a short time. That being said, I almost would have liked more meat, more spine-chilling action as things progressed to a final reveal, where all is decided once and for all. I cannot say more, for it would spoil things, but perhaps the haste to get this to readers left Mark Edwards churning out something swiftly between projects, rather than a stunning and mind-blowing psychological thriller we all expected. Still, it was enjoyable, with its short chapters and teasing about the backstory of Lucy Newton.
Kudos, Mr Edwards, for a great finale. Maybe I am alone in my criticisms, but it does not detract from the pleasure I have for this novella and series in general.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons