Keep Your Lights On

The Quiet Deaths by Amy Hudson

review by Helen McIver
4 stars
Well written, well plotted, psychological thriller
Amy Hudson grew up in Oxford and read English at university. This is her fascinating intricate debut mystery novel, available from Troubador Publishing at WHSmith and amazon.uk.
DCI Mark Morgan has a lot going on in his life. The police station in Hipton, a small market town, is about to be subsumed by nearby Bristol constabulary. His brother Joe is working too much in London, leaving little time for his children or wife Becky. Becks as Mark calls her, is also a stressed school teacher, caring mother and daughter-in-law. Much of the story revolved around her, through her eyes. His father, Harvey, is a cantankerous old man (only 75), complicates the backstory by revealing he is dying of bone cancer, while not wanting his sons to know. He recognizes that his wife Liz needs someone to talk to, and believes Becky is the logical person. This however adds even more stress to her.
Meanwhile, a number of deaths have occurred over several months. All seemingly unrelated, all believed of natural causes. Except that you as the reader know otherwise. Because you have read the opening paragraph. Which states: “Agnes Brink sat at her desk staring at her reams of notes, re-reading them over and over again. She made a decision which she found remarkably easy. In order to reunite with her family she would have to kill. ” I will never look at ancestry.com in quite the same way. Agnes Brink discovered that her relatives were murdered in 1712 and decides if she kills individuals in the same age group (grandmother Anna, son Hendrix and grandson Caspar) they will be reunited with her. The flashbacks from 2013/2014 to 1985, 1988 present a few clues as to the true nature of Agnes Brink, but sympathy is not among them. Perhaps it should be, as she had a wretched childhood. But as she randomly selects her victims, sanity escapes.
I became attached to the characters and was worried who she was going to murder, each time, especially as she goes undetected. I was truly uneasy when the murders were complete but we were only half way through the book. You have no idea if she is finished, will she get caught, what is to happen next. DCI Morgan finally puts all the pieces together, but so much remains unresolved at the end of the book. I wasn’t all that sure I wanted to know what happens to them next! It is not a comfortable read, there is an edge to all the characters and a lot of dark english reality. However, the complicated family is well established for a continuing series.
Read on:
If you like Susan Hill, not just her Simon Serallier series, but her other edgy ghost stories and mysteries.
If you read Frances Fyfield/Frances Hegarty’s psychological thrillers.
If you like Barbara Vine and Ruth Rendell.

Quotes:

“Already the father murdered in 1712 would be at peace now.”

“….not particularly interested in his life, only his death.”

“”Happy Birthday dad.” “Yes yes even older today,” Harvey added, but there was a glint of humour in his faded blue eyes. He knew what he was like and didn’t much like it either, but he was 75 today and he wasn’t planning any changes now.”
“If this Agnes Brink thing turned out to be an international incident then it wouldn’t do Hipton any harm at all. It would put it on the map at last and might secure a few more precious years for its station safely out of Bristol’s clutches.”

received as an ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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