Review: Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton
Maggie is a reclusive lawyer and true-crime author. She is asked to defend Hamish Wolfe, a convicted serial-killer. Hamish is very persistent in wanting Maggie to represent him. Despite initially being cold to the idea of working for him Maggie begins to thaw. Is it the nature of the crime that attracts her or is she also not immune to Wolfe’s charms?
The prologue in Daisy in Chains is made up of three letters; one to ‘My love’ from Hamish, one to Maggie from Hamish asking for representation and the last is a rejection to Hamish’s request by Maggie’s agent. Bolton disperses other various correspondences and newspaper clippings as ‘evidence’ throughout the rest of the book. But with these first letters a niggling doubt starts about Hamish’s innocence.
Hamish is much more romantic than his professional persona would leave you to believe. He seems likes two people. And aren’t those good traits for a serial killer?
Bolton’s mastery is in keeping the pages turning – the chapters are short and tight to maintain that just-one-more-page feeling. She lays out all the clues and these lead to more questions: why does Maggie seem to be talking to herself? Why is the lead detective Peter trying to get so close to Maggie? Who are the members of Wolfe’s supports group? Could they have killed the four women? Did Hamish really kill those women?
If you’re squeamish this might not be the book for you. Bolton is adept at gruesome details and, during one prison fight, doesn’t fade to black until the bones have been crunched. And by watching Wolfe in prison comes the question, ‘how can he be innocent when he acts the way he does?’
At the same time you’re wondering what Maggie is going to uncover. It doesn’t seem she cares for Wolfe’s guilt or innocence – she only cares if she can win. She’s won several of her previous cases and as a response the police need to make sure their case is water tight. Is that why Peter is spending so much time with Maggie?
Daisy in Chains is twisty and gripping because Bolton lets the reader judge as the facts unfold. She presents chapters of Maggie’s work-in-progress to get a cold and factual view of the victims as a comparison to their families’ more colourful real life personalities. Bolton gives insight into the police’s reactions, Hamish’s thinking and Maggie’s actions. And she still manages to wrong-foot and make the reader second guess themselves.
It’s not only the story of a serial killer. It’s about the women who get obsessed with killers and who love them because of what they’ve done – not despite it. Bolton introduces us to a world where women marry killers while they are still in prison. Could Maggie about to be one of those women?
Bolton’s ninth book shows a writer who knows how to make a reader react. In Maggie Rose she has created a main character who may not be able to keep a professional detachment like any other lawyer would. In Hamish Wolfe she has created a charming and scary man who pleads an innocence he doesn’t seem to deserve. The question that keeps the turning pages is, ‘will Maggie find out the truth?’
The answer will make you want to read it all over again to find out how you missed it.