Originally published: 7 July 2022
Author: Victoria Selman
Published by: Quercus
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Length: 352 pages
Reading dates: 9-11 July 2022
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?
The story is told from the viewpoint of Sophie, both as an adult looking back at events but also as a child. In the early 1980s, six year old Sophie and her mum Amelia-Rose come to live in London from Massachusetts and before long her mum has a new boyfriend Matty whom Sophie adores. Matty is fun, has as much time for Sophie as her mum, buys her ice cream and helps her settle in to her London life.
Meanwhile, a series of murders are terrifying the young woman of London. Young women from all walks of life are being murdered – the only thing they have in common is they have a similarity in appearance to Amelia-Rose. This alarms Sophie who worries for her mother’s safety.
The relationship between Matty and her mother is strained at times. Matty will often disappear for days at a time with no communication but always professes to love Amelia-Rose, despite never putting the ring on her finger she so desperately wants.
After the death of a young child in Ireland, Matty is arrested for the murders of the women and found guilty. Both Sophie and her mum are devastated and the repercussions on their lives are far reaching. Both have a huge sense of guilt that they didn’t realise what was going on while still harbouring doubts that he was guilty.
Wow! What a fabulous book this was. Despite being about a serial killer, it wasn’t gruesome – the murders are mentioned but there is very little detail in what happened to the victims. This is very much more a story about the impact on the people who are left behind, told from their viewpoint. There are plenty of red flags that we the reader can spot – Matty often gaslights Amelia-Rose and despite being for the most part kind to Sophie, there are occasions when he makes her feel uncomfortable or puts her in danger.
The doubt both Sophie and her mother have towards the guilty verdict just show how manipulative and charming Matty has been and how convincing he was that he was this other person. Even 20 years on when Sophie is called to the prison because Matty is dying, she still isn’t sure he is truly guilty.
I liked that is was set in the 1980s – it makes for a very different experience to a serial killer operating today. All the news has to come from the TV, radio or newspapers as opposed to the internet. I have a sneaky fascination about serial killers so this was a brilliant read for me!
A shocking and uncomfortable read, which was utterly addictive, I absolutely loved Truly Darkly Deeply.
Many thanks to Quercus Books for sending me an early proof copy. I was lucky enough to attend a Goldsboro Books event in Brighton last week where Victoria Selman was in conversation with S J Watson and it was thoroughly entertaining. I purchased my own copy there.
About the author:
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 with critics, Barry Forshaw and Paul Burke, compiles the Afraid of the Light charity anthology series and was shortlisted for the 2021 CWA Short Story Dagger Award.