When I saw Did You See Melody? on Netgalley, my interest was immediately piqued. I thought that the plot sounded original, and I think that there’s a great deal of potential in the idea of seeing someone who was supposedly murdered several years ago.
Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.
A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.
Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?
I thought that Did You See Melody? started a little slowly, but the pace soon picked up once Cara started to do a little digging into the Melody Chapa case. I really liked the use of news articles, interviews etc. that Cara finds online to familiarise herself with the case, and I love novels that contain these kinds of documents, as I think that they help to bring a story to life.
However, there were certain elements of the plot that I didn’t find at all plausible. I don’t want to spoil the novel for other readers, so I won’t go into any of the details, but there were parts where I had to suspend my disbelief. Of course, this is a work of fiction, and so there is always a certain amount of convenience involved for the plot to hang together, but there were aspects of the story that just didn’t work for me personally.
Additionally, I found that some of the characterisation was quite extreme, to the point of caricature, and I did find that some of the American stereotypes were a little jarring at times. There was also no one that I really engaged with, and whilst this isn’t always a bad thing, I do think that I might have enjoyed it a little more if I’d felt at least a little bit of sympathy for Cara’s situation, but she just didn’t inspire that kind of emotion in me – at least partly because I felt that she was in a situation of her own making.
That said, at no point did I consider not finishing Did You See Melody? – I think that Hannah writes well, and, certain issues aside, it is quite an entertaining read. And I did want to find out what happened – as I’ve said, I think that the idea behind it is an original one, and there were some interesting twists in the story which I didn’t see coming.
Did You See Melody? will be published on 24 August by Hodder & Stoughton. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this ahead of its publication.