I, Witness by Niki Mackay

The Blurb On The Back:

Six years ago, Kate Reynolds was found holding the body of her best friend; covered in blood, and clutching the knife that killed her.

Kate has been in prison ever since, but now her sentence is up.  She is being released.

There’s only one person who can help: Private Investigator Madison Attalee, the first officer on the scene all those years ago.

But there’s someone out there who doesn’t want Kate digging up the past.  Someone who is willing to keep the truth buried at any cost. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

6 years ago, 17-year-old Kate Reynolds was found in a disorientated state over the body of her best friend Naomi Andrews, clutching the knife used to stab her 13 times.  Despite the best efforts of her psychiatrist, Dean Hall who believed she was unfit to stand trial, the case seemed such a slam dunk that Kate pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Newly released, Kate’s moved back to her home town of Kingston-upon-Thames (despite the best efforts of Naomi’s mother Anthea) and is keen to rebuild her relationship with her father (who’s refused to see her since the trial), brother Marcus (who now runs the family business and is married to Claudia with whom he has a young daughter) and sister Martha (who has mental health issues and has been in and out of clinics).  Having had 6 years to consider the events of that night and believes that she is innocent and so she enlists the help of Madison Attalee (former police detective turned private investigator who also happened to be first on the scene at the murder) to dig into what happened.

Madison has always had doubts about the quality of the murder investigation and having suffered her own brush with notoriety, she empathises with Kate’s plight.  But not everyone is keen for Kate and Madison to uncover what really happened that night and someone will do whatever it takes to keep their involvement a secret …

Niki Mackay’s debut thriller plays a little fast and loose with the English legal system and its slightly soapy premise and the killer was too obvious but there’s some strong writing on show here – notably through the portrayal of a domestic abuse storyline – and I found both Madison and Kate to be interesting characters who each has their own demons such that I would be interested in reading a sequel.

I did find it a little difficult to get into the book because you need to get past the premise of Kate pleading guilty to a murder she didn’t recall committing (which is partly explained by her relationship with her emotionally distant father) and I found the depiction of the legal system a little hard to believe (especially given the supposed public and media outcry about the crime).  However, I thought that Mackay did well in giving her various narrators strong voices (albeit that Madison’s sweary guilt was a bit artificial at first) and slowly unveiling their background with the Claudia sections being particularly strong in their depiction of the truth about her relationship with Marcus.

The main issue with the plot is that I did guess the killer very early on but Mackay does keep the pace moving and I enjoyed how she slowly draws out elements of the backstory of the various characters.  The book ends with an interesting potential for a sequel, which I would definitely be interested in checking out.

I, WITNESS will be released in the United Kingdom on 19th April 2018.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

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