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by Martin Edwards
Allison & Busby, May 2002
275 pages
17.99 GBP
ISBN: 0749005181

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The author of seven books in the private eye Harry Devlin series set in Liverpool, Martin Edwards has stepped in a new direction with his first standalone novel, Take My Breath Away. The book follows two separate plot threads which ultimately intersect. The protagonist of the book is a former lawyer turned writer by the name of Nic Gabriel. The second story line features a paralegal by the assumed name of Roxanne Wake.

It's most unusual to go to a party and see one of your best friends murdered by a spurned lover. But it's well nigh impossible for the killer to be a woman who committed suicide five years earlier. Yet that is what Nic Gabriel witnesses when Dylan Rees is stabbed by Ella Vinton, a woman who bound herself to the tracks and was killed by a train. It doesn't seem likely that she could recompose herself. Nic blames himself for his slow reaction to seeing Ella and what she is about to do and vows to determine exactly what did occur here. He doesn't have much to go on other than some enigmatic last words from Dylan.

Meanwhile, Roxanne Wake has just accepted a job at Creed, a firm that specializes in human rights law. From the first, we know that Roxanne is working under an assumed name and that she is hiding her past from her employers. Slowly over the course of the book, it is revealed that her real name is Cassandra Lee and that she was involved in the murder of her lover in a case that garnered headlines across the nation. She's changed her appearance and is trying to move on, but somehow Nic recognizes her anyway when he visits Creed while tracking down clues in Dylan's case.

Nic is a man who is at loose ends. A few years earlier, he wrote a true crime best seller book. Since that time, he has had no motivation to write another book nor to pursue any paying pursuits. Roxanne naturally assumes that Nic wants to write a book about her situation and will do anything to keep the past buried. As it turns out, there is plenty of material to use within the Creed firm, as their past history is suspect and the current group of lawyers all are more than they seem.

The plot perhaps has a few too many threads going at the same time, even within the boundaries of one character. Nic, for example, is not only searching to find the truth about Dylan but also to prove that his father did not kill his mother. At times, particularly in the Roxanne thread, Edwards teeters on the brink of melodrama. There are all sorts of other deaths that come to the surface during the course of the book.

The book was well written and well paced, although I did think that Edwards stretched out revealing Roxanne's secrets a bit too long. The various characters were well drawn. Edwards did a superb job in resolving all of the plot points, and the resolution was very satisfying. The ending, in particular, was excellent and cast doubt in the reader's mind about whether the truth had been revealed or not.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, January 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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