I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Past Life, the debut novel from Dominic Nolan. This is a dark crime novel, and one that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
Waking up beside the dead girl, she couldn’t remember anything.
Who she was. Who had taken her. How to escape.
Detective Abigail Boone has been missing for four days when she is finally found, confused and broken. Suffering retrograde amnesia, she is a stranger to her despairing husband and bewildered son.
Hopelessly lost in her own life, with no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the baffling disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still.
Defying her family and the police, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to the darkest edges of human cruelty. But even if she finds Sarah, will Boone ever be the same again?
Past Life opens with a fantastic prologue, and the reader is thrown straight into the nightmarish situation of a woman waking up to find that she doesn’t know who or where she is. To say that I liked the opening scene isn’t perhaps entirely accurate – it is an awful situation to be in – but it works brilliantly as an introduction to let the reader know exactly what they are in for in terms of content and the level of violence contained within. It’s not excessive or gratuitous, but Past Life is a novel that doesn’t pull its punches, and some of the themes contained within its pages are certainly darker than your average crime novel.
Following the prologue, the novel then slows down as the reader catches up with Abigail Boone a year or so after the events of the prologue. She still has no memory of what happened to her, and has been diagnosed with retrograde amnesia. I thought that the difficulties associated with this were brilliantly portrayed, and Abigail has the difficult task of reintegrating into the life she once had. A life that features a husband that she now feels nothing for, and a son that she remembers nothing of. She doesn’t know the people around her, and they don’t know this new Boone (as she prefers to be called) either. In some ways, her situation is a chance for Boone to begin again, and her dilemma throughout the novel is the pull of doing what she wants, versus those who want the old Abigail that they know and love returned to them.
Determined to work out what happened to her, Boone begins tracking down Sarah Still again, knowing only that she hit upon a lead before the incident that left her with amnesia and a whole host of mental and physical scarring. Whilst she is no longer part of the police force, she still has her notes from the case, and working independently becomes more of a help than a hindrance, as she is able to work outside the restrictions of the law. It makes for some tense situations, and I quickly came to love her determined if reckless attitude. She gathers a group of new friends along the way, and I thought that they were a fantastic and colourful group with each given a detailed backstory, and not just falling on the same old tropes of ex-con etc.
Past Life is a fantastic debut, and one that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to those looking for an action-packed novel that features an unusual protagonist. It’s a fantastic story, and one that I kept reading to find out whether Boone would get to the bottom of the missing Sarah Still, and how much trouble she would get into along the way.
Past Life was published on 7 March by Headline. With thanks to Becky Hunter for the early review copy, and to Anne Cater for the invitation to join the blog tour.
Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour: