Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.
She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.
Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . .
Thirteen passengers in a hot air balloon glide over the Northumberland National Park. Unlucky, you might think. And you’d be right. Jessica Lane had booked the flight as a surprise for her sister, Isabel’s 40th birthday. All was going well until a man is spotted chasing a girl through the woods and the passengers witness a brutal murder. The man has seen them and as the pilot desperately released the flame in order to make the balloon rise, the man on the ground raised his rifle. He is determined there will be no witnesses left alive, most especially Jessica. One person isn’t killed when the balloon crashes but her battle to stay alive is only just beginning.
Where was she? Where was this place of darkness and pain? She hadn’t known it was possible to hurt so much. It was tearing her apart from the inside and crushing her into dust. Her body was broken. There was no way out of this agony, it was consuming her whole.
Such an intense start to the story had me hooked immediately. Being suspended in a hot air balloon wouldn’t be far off my worst nightmare anyway, and the crash was so convincing and described in such detail I could all but feel my stomach drop, and the panic build as the balloon plummeted towards the ground! What an innovative and unique way to witness a murder and begin the storyline.
The story is set in Northumberland in the area encompassing Lindisfarne and written in short chapters. mainly told from three perspectives – the killer, the victim and the police officer – which broadens the outlook, heightening the tension and suspense. With flashbacks of the sisters’ lives, from being children and leading up to the present, although not always in sequence, causing a little initial confusion.
Detective Chief Inspector Ajax Maldonado of the Northumbria police is in charge of the investigation, and the cast of characters are intriguing. There are lighter moments, namely the nuns. I loved the way the plot unfolded, even as credibility had to be suspended just a little at times. The plot is well crafted and fast paced and the reveals were surprising, the twist at the end completely unexpected. It has all the necessary ingredients: secrets, horrific illegal activities and experiences, and corruption to name but a few.
I enjoyed reading Dead Woman Walking very much and will read more of Sharon Bolton’s work.
Sharon J Bolton was born and brought up in Lancashire, the eldest of three daughters. As a child, she dreamed of becoming an actress and a dancer, studying ballet, tap and jazz from a young age and reading drama at Loughborough University. She spent her early career in marketing and PR before returning to full-time education to study for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Warwick University, where she met her husband, Andrew. They moved to London and Sharon held a number of PR posts in the City. She left the City to work freelance, to start a family and to write.
She and Andrew now live in a village in the Chiltern Hills, not far from Oxford, with their son and the latest addition to the family: Lupe, the lop-eared lurcher. Her daily life revolves around the school run, walking the dog and those ever-looming publishing deadlines.