Twisted Wing by Ruth Newman

Well, this is book that broke my library ordering ban. The cover image, at eye level, caught my attention first, And then I saw a glowing recommendation from Sophie Hannah, an author I love:

‘I absolutely loved TWISTED WING. It was so gripping, and I was both desperate and reluctant to get to the end. I found it scary, tantalisingly unpredictable and very, very hard to put down’

I picked the book up – and saw that it was  published by the wonderful Long Barn Books . I was tempted to buy but, because I rarely read modern crime novels more than once, I checked the library catalogue, found copies elsewhere in the county and placed my order.

Did the book live up to all of that? Yes and no.

The opening was striking. A university student murdered in her own room and another student catatonic beside her. You might expect the story then to follow the police investigation. But if you did you’d be wrong. This book takes two different, and much more interesting paths.

First it follows the lives of the friends of the two students involved. This would be so easy to get wrong, but Ruth Newman gets it just right. The characters,their interactions, student life, all utterly believable.

And then it follows forensic psychiatrist Matthew Denison as he treats traumatised patient, student Olivia Coscadden, certain that she can identify the murderer, that he has to draw the truth out. Olivia’s story proves to be shocking and quite unexpected.

Now this is the point at which I have to be careful what I say so that I don’t give too much away.

Twisted Wing is very well written, perfectly paced and a genuine page turner. The plot twists – and there are many – are startling and very well handled. There were just a couple of things that I felt lacked a little credibility, but I can’t say what without giving away too much of the plot, and they certainly didn’t spoil the story.

 And the ending is very clever. All in all this is a very polished debut.

I’m afraid though that the story was just a little more violent, a little more graphic, than I felt was necessary. Not to the degree that I have to say it was wrong – of course murder is brutal, and that shouldn’t be disregarded – but it took away from the pure shock of a the life of a young woman with a bright future being callously cut short, with her friends close by, in a place where she should have been completely safe.

Reading her blog though, I think that Ruth Newman has produced the book that she intended:

“I love Morse, but this isn’t your standard police procedural – the story’s mainly told from the point of view of the students who find themselves being picked off one by one. It’s nice and violent too (I don’t do genteel poisonings), though we’re not in Bret Easton Ellis territory just yet!”

And, I have to say, she has done it very well.

14 responses

  1. I was disappointed just now. Your review had me checking our library website and we don’t have it…yet. My tbr pile is teetering but I just know my husband would love this. Thanks!

    • The book seems to be getting a reasonable push here – I spotted it in the the book chart in W H Smiths – so hopefully the book will get some momentum and your library will realise it needs a copy.

    • It’s definitely better than your averae crime novel. The police are very much in the background and the angles you see are much more interesting.

    • Yes, it is definitely worth trying. The killings are brutal and there are frequent reminders, but it isn’t gratuitous and, without wanting to give anything away, maybe it’s realistic given the psychology of the crime.

  2. I can see how the cover might encourage you to break your library ban! I’m adding this one to my list. Looks like my kind of book, warts and all 🙂

  3. Pingback: Friday Finds « Windy Ridge Books

  4. i have got the book and i started it last night… i read the first few pages and i guess i like them but after sometime it got quite boring… but most people say that it gets A WHOLE LOT better after about the 100 pages so i guess i won’t give it up… i really don’t mind the violence but i want to ask, why is olivia so traumatized and where exactly is she living? with nick or in some mental hospital?

  5. oh and in the beginning of the book she was next to amanda but as i read on it confuses me because it seems like no one saw the murderer, no one was there with her…

    • Things will become clearer. There are some dramatic revelations, and a major twist, quite early on, so if you haven’t reached that point I would recommend sticking with it for a little longer.

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