Truly, Darkly, Deeply – Victoria Selman

Twelve-year-old Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose, move to London from Massachusetts where they meet the charismatic Matty Melgren, who quickly becomes an intrinsic part of their lives. But as the relationship between the two adults fractures, a serial killer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose.

When Matty is eventually sent down for multiple murder, questions remain as to his guilt — questions which ultimately destroy both women. Nearly twenty years later, Sophie receives a letter from Battlemouth Prison informing her Matty is dying and wants to meet. It looks like Sophie might finally get the answers she craves. But will the truth set her free — or bury her deeper?

“Victoria Selman is an exciting and powerfully fresh voice”—PATRICIA CORNWELL

Victoria Selman is the author of the critically acclaimed Ziba MacKenzie series. Her debut novel, Blood for Blood, was shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award and an Amazon Charts #1 bestseller for five weeks, selling over half a million copies.

Victoria has written for the Independent, co-hosts Crime Time FM, compiles the Afraid of the Light charity anthology series and was shortlisted for the 2021 CWA Short Story Dagger Award.

Her first latest thriller, Truly Darkly Deeply, was published as Quercus’ flagship title in July 2022 and was an instant Sunday Times bestseller.

My Review:

We’ve all read books concerning serial killers, their wives, their daughters, their next door neighbours, their first cousin twice removed pet goldfish but Truly, Darkly, Deeply is a fresh and original look at a serial killer through the eyes of a young girl, Sophie. Set in the 1980’s in London, Sophie aged 8 and her mother Amelia Rose have moved from the USA to settle in North London.

Amelia Rose meets Matthew (Matty) Melgren and they start a 4 year romance. Young and impressionable Sophie looks up to her mother’s boyfriend and soon a strong bond is established. When several local young woman go missing and later turn up murdered, the neighbourhood begins to panic. Women no longer feel safe walking home alone, the police have absolutely no clues and the term “serial killer” hadn’t even been invented then. Young Sophie becomes obsessed with the press coverage especially as the victims all share an uncanny likeness to her mum Amelia Rose, but luckily Matty is there to reassure her and make her feel safe.

Fast forward 20 years and Matty is now in prison serving Life for murdering all those women and children, nicknamed The Shadow by the press, he contacts Sophie, now 32 as he is dying and wants to see her.

The book is narrated by Sophie and with the dual time lines of the 1980s and present, the chapters slowly peel back the full story behind the serial killer, his girlfriend and her young daughter.

Sophie was such a wonderful character, first as a young girl desperate for attention and love, missing a father figure and truly loving and trusting Matty to protect her and her mother and give them the stable family she craved. The readers will spot a few warning signs in the early days, but Sophie’s youth and innocence allows her to dismiss these incidents at the time and only when she is relaying her story in the present does she start to question things more deeply.

Grown up Sophie who is slowly retelling her story leading up to her visiting Matty in prison is as much a victim as the women he killed. Although she is still alive, she is not really living a life. She’s damaged, has trust issues, feels guilty and ashamed, is vilified for being associated with a serial killer and has struggled ever since he was arrested and charged. Now she needs to find the inner strength to face up to him in prison and hopefully lay some ghosts to rest and get the peace she so deserves.

I absolutely love reading books set in places I know well and being a North Londoner myself, it was fun to read about Hampstead, Camden and the surrounding areas which actually brought more realism to the story for me personally.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Truly, Darkly, Deeply and would definitely recommend it to any thriller fans out there.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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