The blurb that accompanied ‘Only the Innocent’ raised questions about women who commit apparently perfect, cold-blooded murder so I was primed for a story about a psychopath. The fact that this psychopath was going to be a woman merely added a touch of spice to my expectations. While the book did not disappoint me in the slightest, it did not turn out to be anything like what I was expecting.
The last thing I want to do is to spoil this story for anyone so all I will say is that ‘a woman’ did plan and commit an almost perfect murder but she was as far from being a psychopath as it is possible to get. Psychopaths kill for a number of reasons but a lack of empathy is usually high on the list. The murderer in ‘Only the Innocent’ killed because she cared. And because every other option was closed to her.
As a writer I am capable of imagining some pretty horrific and gruesome ways of killing my characters but as a woman I have often wondered if I would be capable of killing someone in the real world, even to save my own life. After reading ‘Only the Innocent’ I know that there is at least one situation in which I would kill. Whether I could do so with as much finesse as the murderer in ‘Only the Innocent’ I truly do not know. To be honest I really hope I am never put in a position where I am forced to find out.
Getting back to the book, the author, Rachel Abbotts, reveals the truth behind the public facade of the victim one crumb at a time and I found myself following her trail of breadcrumbs like a starving sparrow in winter, yet every new insight seemed to obscure the identity of the murderer even more. Only at the very end does she reveal not only ‘who done it’ but also how. Trust me, it’s worth the wait, however I strongly advise readers to take the time to think about the deeper issues informing the story as well. The involuntary prostitution of illegal immigrants is real and flourishing in an age when we all tend to think that slavery is a thing of the past. It exists now and will continue to exist while unscrupulous people can make a profit from the disparity between rich countries and poor.
‘Only the Innocent’ has many layers and they are all woven together with a master’s touch. The pace is always just right, the descriptions are always pertinent and necessary and the prose is clean. In short it is a very well-written, well edited, well thought out novel that really should have been snapped up by one of the traditional publishers. Perhaps they were scared off by some of the ‘adult themes’ raised by the book. If so then their loss is our gain as we can read an excellent novel at an ebook price.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. My favourite thriller/suspense/psychological novel of all time is The Blindman of Seville by Robert Wilson. I would give that book a 5/5. ‘Only the Innocent’ is not quite up to that very high standard but at 4/5 it comes damn close. I expect Rachel Abbott to be on our bestseller lists in the very near future.