The Life I Left Behind
by Colette McBeth
Review by Mel Jacob
Minotaur Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250041234
Date: 12 January 2016 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Collete McBeth's The Life I Left Behind relates the story of two women. One almost died some years earlier. The other is killed early in the novel. The novel is told using the viewpoints of both women as they struggle to identify the real culprit behind both events. If the accused suspect is not the murderer, who is?
A brutal attack left Melody Pieterson for dead by a park footpath. She has no memory of the event and can only accept the police version that her best friend had done it. Since then, she has struggled with daily fear in order to become a person unafraid to leave her home.
Engaged to a doctor, Melody, now known as Mel, devotes her time to gourmet cooking and physical training. She shops online and goes few places and never alone. Decision making is difficult. She is convinced she needs to recover the memories she lost, but hasn't discovered how to do that.
Eve Elliot, a former investigator for a defunct TV series, has taken up the case of David Alden, the man sent to prison for assaulting Melody and just released from prison. Determined to prove his innocence, Eve goes through all the old records and evidence gathered in Melody's case. The closer she comes to finding the real attacker, the more likely the chance that person will retaliate.
Eve resembled Melody and had a similar open, bouncy personality. Her good friend Nat cannot believe anyone would want her dead. He teams up with Melody to search for the killer.
Both women were left for dead in the same place. Neither had been sexually assaulted. Both were found strangled and left with a unique gold chain clasped in one hand. The detective in charge of Eve's case begins to question whether the right man was imprisoned for attacking Melody and that perhaps in a rush to judgment, some information may have been ignored.
McBeth spends almost too much time on Melody's moodiness and attempts to find answers. Mel comes across as less than sympathetic and mostly as pathetic. Eve is the stronger character even though she is dead and narrates her life and demise without revealing the killer. Eve's meticulous work proves a gift for the investigating detective. The ending is satisfying and few will have guessed the name of the killer. Her debut book, Precious Things appeared in 2014.