A young girl, Abbie Thornton, is found in the middle of the night wearing only her white night-dress – only the dress is stained in blood. When DI Meg Dalton takes the girl home, she discovers a shocking sight, namely the girl’s father with his throat cut. Abbie can remember nothing about the night’s events, but soon the finger of suspicion begins to point towards the troubled girl.
Ever since a recent heart transplant, she has suffered nightmares and has accused her father of being a murderer. When evidence comes to light that Abbie’s donor may have been killed by that girl’s father, and studies have shown that transplant victims can demonstrate traits that their donors’ possess, the question is whether the heart of a murder victim can cause the recipient to seek revenge? Meg is convinced that Abbie is just a victim here. But is she right? And can a victim still be guilty?
This is the second Meg Dalton book from Roz Watkins. The first, The Devil’s Dice, was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger, and I liked it a lot, although more as a promising debut that an out-and-out classic in its own right. It should be noted that I seem to be in a minority here, as others absolutely loved it.
Anyway, Dead Man’s Daughter was one of the books that I chose for my challenge this year and I fancied something modern to read. I was expecting pretty much what I got with the first book – what I wasn’t expecting was one of the best modern mysteries that I’ve read in a long time.
The idea of whether a transplanted organ can cause someone to kill is done very well here – there’s supporting evidence that builds the case of Abbie’s guilt (if indeed it is guilt) in an exceedingly convincing way. The question becomes what sort of book is it going to be? Is it about finding evidence to prove that such incidences are possible? Is it about proving that Abbie was a deliberate murderer? Or is it something else entirely, although given the plethora of evidence regarding Abbie, the idea of someone else being the murderer would make it an impossible crime, surely?
There is no way I can discuss which of these (or another option) is the truth here, as that would definitely come into the realms of spoilers, which as you know, isn’t what I do here. All I can say is that the elements of the tale come together in a very impressive manner, one of the most well-thought-out plots that I’ve seen in a long time. Oh, and there’s at least one very good clue to send the reader in the right direction.
Add in the quality of the writing and the characters (although I could have perhaps done without the passed-over-for-promotion underling, but let’s see where that goes in later books) and what you have is a very satisfying read indeed. Yes, what one character is up to may seem a little over-the-top, but I refer the reader to many, many characters in Golden Age mystery fiction. Simply put, this is one of the best police-procedural mysteries that I have read in ages – let’s hope that NetGalley approve my request for Book 3, which is on the way soon.