Precious Thing by Collette McBeth – a review

I bought this book at the festival after hearing Colette McBeth talk in the New Blood panel. This is where the authors are all new writers chosen by Val McDermid, which as we all know is always one of my favourite sessions. Colette was previously a crime correspondent for a newspaper and it’s this experience she draws on to create her first novel, Precious Things.

Rachel and Clara met and became friends at school. They were described by others as being completely inseparable and kept other people at arms length. As is the way in life, they got older, their lives changed and the girls grew apart. Clara stayed in Brighton whilst Rachel becomes a tv crime reporter. Whilst they kept in touch, the friendship became a lot more one sided. Shortly after a failed attempt to meet up with Clara, Rachel is sent to Brighton to cover the case of a missing girl. This girl then obviously turns out to be Clara.

Rachel is determined to find out what happened and so she starts to investigate. It soon becomes clear that the relationship between Clara and Rachel is not as amicable as it looks. Throughout the book we are given glimpses into their childhood friendship, and the flashbacks reveal the flaws.

I really enjoyed this book. I was actually working down in Brighton the week I read this, although that was a complete coincidence. It was purely the first book I grabbed off the pile that came back with me from the festival but it was interesting to be in the place a lot of the action takes place.

The whole story is told from Rachel’s point of view and is written in the form of a letter she pens to Clara. I must confess to forgetting this very quickly into the book so I can’t say it either helped or hindered the storytelling. What I did like though was the fact that because you are only seeing everything through the eyes of one person, it’s unclear as to who is right and who is wrong. Rachel seems to be quite manipulative, and Clara is portrayed as having a number of issues. However human nature means we tend to always put ourselves in the best light and will blame others if we can get away with it so it’s unclear in this story as to who is really to blame for anything.

As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the friendship between the two girls is not all that it seems and there are an awful lot of secrets that affect the way the two girls have behaved. It was a quick read that kept you guessing until the end and whilst it wasn’t a gruesome book with lots of gory descriptions there were enough bits to shock.

It was a very good book and once again Val McDermid didn’t disappoint with her new blood choices.

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