A Song of Isolation by Michael J. Malone

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback , Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller

Today is my stop on the tour for this riveting thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Orenda for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

In this breathtakingly brutal and intensely topical psychological thriller, a man is accused of child sexual abuse, and his life and that of his actress girlfriend are thrown into turmoil


Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?

Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.

While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated a child trying to make sense of an adult world.

Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives in an instant.

MY REVIEW:

“How can a normal day turn into a nightmare so quickly?”

Movie star Amelie Hart is living a quiet life with her boyfriend Dave Robbins after retiring from the limelight following a traumatic experience with a stalker. But her quiet idle is shattered when Dave is accused of abusing their neighbours’ eleven-year-old daughter. 

Dave protests his innocence and Amelie believes him, but the court of public opinion has him convicted even before the trial begins and they judge Amelie guilty too, saying she ‘must have known’ what was happening.

“He felt shame bubble on his veins until it lay over his mind and heart and soul like a tombstone slab. He was better than that. He was a good guy, wasn’t he? “

Michael J. Malone is a truly gifted writer. This isn’t a story you can write without exploring the dark side and Malone manages to examine the dark and difficult topics in this book with honesty and sensitivity. Instead of taking sides he allows the reader to make up their own mind about the truth of the allegations. We know that Dave believes he did nothing wrong and that Damaris believes her story, and the author makes it clear they are both victims who have been living in a nightmare ever since that day. There is a real sense of helplessness and vulnerability in both characters. Whatever the outcome there will be no winners in this story. 

The decision to have multiple narrators is one I liked as it offered not only more pieces of the puzzle, but showed the ripple effect of such allegations and its different effects on the lives of all those involved. He makes the characters leap from the page and immerses you so completely that you are drawn into their world and invested in what happens to them. At times the author evoked such a visceral reaction in me that I wanted to scream and shout as I witnessed the agony, heartache, injustice and manipulation that was suffered.

“Although she’d managed to rebuild and get on with her life with little impediment, it dismayed her that the terror that man caused her had never really left.”

As someone with PTSD I particularly appreciated the accuracy with which the author portrayed Amelie in the book, showing how the accusations against Dave trigger her memories and the feelings from her earlier trauma, and caused a resurgence of habits and emotions she believed she was over. From my own experience I know that it’s easy to think we’re over a situation only for the smallest thing to trigger it coming back and that another large trauma leads to devastating feelings that are hard to work through. Poor Amelie has the added pressure of being a celebrity, allowing the author to look at the darker side of fame and the media’s hunger for any gossip on those in the public eye. 

Dave meanwhile never once wavers about his innocence, but goes through an incredibly dark time. He feels like he doesn’t know who he is anymore and is forced to examine every interaction he’s ever had not only with Damaris, but all women. He can’t believe anyone could think him able to do such an evil thing or that by being kind to a lonely child he would see his whole life destroyed. Life in prison is frightening and he’s in real danger but there is nothing he can do but ride it out and hope he survives. But he has no idea what will be waiting for him when he leaves and fears his whole future has been taken from him. 

While I obviously felt for what Amelie and Dave were going through, from the start, the character I felt most moved by was Damaris, the child at the heart of the allegations. She is lonely, afraid and confused. She can’t remember being hurt but believes that must be her mind protecting herself from the trauma. You get the sense early on that this little girl is just a pawn in her parent’s game and how she feels or is affected matters little to them. I was so angry at how she was being treated. If she was abused then they were not giving her adequate support in her biggest time of need. And if she wasn’t, then they’ve planted the seed of something that will psychologically damage their daughter forever. 

Powerful, raw, moving, twisty and darkly atmospheric, A Song of Isolation is a riveting and affecting novel that I highly recommend. I am so glad that I finally read a book by this author and I’m looking forward to reading his back catalogue. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

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