Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: TRACES OF RED by Paddy Richardson

TRACES OF RED by Paddy Richardson (Penguin, 2011)

Successful TV presenter Rebecca Thorne's world is upturned when her Saturday night programme is axed for falling ratings, and with it, her story on convicted triple murderer Connor Bligh, who Rebecca believes is innocent. Although she's not entirely sure if her lover, a married barrister representing Bligh, truly feels the same way. Meanwhile Bligh languishes in jail, continuing to protest his innocence. He's clearly not a saint, but did he do it? Rebecca refuses to let the matter lie. 

Reviewed by Kerrie Smith

TV journalist Rebecca Thorne feels as if she is losing her edge. The ratings for Saturday Night have been dropping for some time and she feels that it needs to focus on stories with more bite. Her producer on the other hand believes the opposite - people already have enough doom and gloom in daily life, and the last thing they need is to be made to think on Saturday nights. They want entertainment and "nice" stories. So the answer is to ditch Rebecca's program and to try something else.

Rebecca successfully persuades a rival station to run with a documentary about convicted triple murderer Connor Bligh. She secures a three month contract and throws herself into the production. Connor agrees to meet her and she becomes convinced he is innocent, that he is the victim of injustice, and so she visits him in jail often.

Right from the beginning this is a story about whether Rebecca is able to maintain her objectivity, can she present both sides of the story, is she getting too close to Connor Bligh. But is also about how reliable he is, can she trust him? As she meets people who have known Connor so she realises that others who have talked about him at his trial have often had their own agendas, but does that make their versions of events any less true?

The structure of the novel is interesting. It begins with the discovery of the murders by the daughter of the family who has spent the weekend at a friend's house. The remainder of the book is divided between Rebecca's narration, and letters that Connor writes to her from jail. Rebecca's family of lawyers warn her that she is getting too close to Connor.

By the time this book wound to its end, I was hardly daring to breath. Paddy Richardson is obviously an author I should have tried before, if TRACES OF RED is any indication.



Kerrie Smith is a renowned Australian crime fiction reviewer and the creator of Mysteries in Paradise, an outstanding online crime fiction resource where this review was originally published. She also runs the Global Reading Challenge. Kerrie has been kindly agreed to share her New Zealand crime fiction reviews here with the Crime Watch audience.  


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