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Dead Woman Walking: A Novel by Sharon Bolton

Dead Woman Walking: A Novel

by Sharon Bolton

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9311184,576 (3.81)5



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Jessica Lane treats her sister, Isabel (known to most as Sister Mary Magdalena, as her sister has been serving in a convent for many years) to a hot air balloon ride for her 40th birthday. But things go awry when Jessica--from the balloon--sees a man murder a young woman. From the ground, he spots her face clearly. Then the balloon crashes, and there is only one survivor. The man knows she can identify him, and he won't stop until the threat to his safety is eliminated. So Jessica runs, unsure of who she can trust, or where she can go, all the while knowing that her beloved sister is dead.

Wow, what a book. I don't want to say more about the plot for risk of spoilers or ruining any of the awesome "whoa" moments you encounter while reading this one. The story flashes back and forth in time as Jessica tells us about the day of the accident and then various pieces of the past. It's a combination of suspenseful, confusing, and spellbinding that will grip you from the very beginning. You're immediately roped in as the balloon crashes and then left wondering about the sisters' past, which is only unveiled in small nuggets.

I found this book to be extremely tense. As in, my body was actually tight while reading. I was rigidly turning pages, wondering what was going to happen next and if Jessica was going to get to safety. Bolton made me suspicious of everything and everyone--I felt like our protagonist: I could trust no one.

One of the best parts of this novel is that in addition to our "Fugitive"-esque plot, we have a fascinating police case weaved in. This really keeps the book moving as the plot continues to thicken. Not only is Jessica being pursued, but we're learning more and more about the case she was researching in the years and months before the crash. In addition, the final layer is the snippets about the sisters and their tangled family past. Somehow, Bolton twists them all together nearly effortlessly. You have to be able to keep track of when everything occurs (the chapters are just marked as "XX amount of time before" the crash), but you get used to it.

I totally guessed one of the big shocking aspects of the novel early on, but I was still second guessing myself the whole time, and it didn't diminish my enjoyment of it whatsoever, plus there was still so much that completely surprised me. To the extent that I wish I had time to go back and read it again and figure out how I missed so many things! Seriously. This book made me go "wow!" multiple times. It captivated me the entire time I was reading it. There was one final twist too many for complete plausibility at the end to get 4.5 stars, but I still highly recommend this one. A wonderful, spellbinding thriller that cements for me how much I love Bolton's work.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!) in return for an unbiased review; the U.S. version is available everywhere as of 09/05/2017.

You can read my review of Bolton's novel LITTLE BLACK LIES here.

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  justacatandabook | Apr 9, 2018 |
I enjoyed this book most of the time. There were a few "Oh come on!" moments balanced with some unforeseen (by me anyway) twists which kept me reading. ( )
  jhullie | Mar 20, 2018 |

I had read six Sharon Bolton (aka S J Bolton) novels previously, rating most of them 4 or 4+, and two of them a 3. It had been a few years since the last one because I wasn't enthused about a series she had started, and then I read a plot summary of the recently released "Dead Woman Walking" (DW). It grabbed me - joy riders on an early morning hot air balloon witness a murder and the killer, realizing there are more than a dozen witnesses, begins shooting at them.

But the book doesn't deliver. I didn't even care for the resolution of the opening scene - I thought it could have been so much better. In a nutshell though, I thought there were far too many flashbacks and too many plot twists - for me, the book became a confusing mess. And I am one of these people who believes that more is always better - clearly not so with DW. The first big twist, an identity thing comes about midway. I thought it was an unnecessary gimmick, a bit manipulative. Flashbacks can be very effective, but in addition to an overload of them, DW's come too close to real time events

Ultimately this becomes a story about illegal organ donors. I was reminded of Mark Billingham's novel of last year on "honor" killings, and the great job he did in bringing the magnitude of a horrific cultural practice to light. In my mind, DW comes nowhere near having a similar impact on the reader. Instead we have a supporting cast of cloistered nuns. As we get to know them a little better, they seem kind of cute. When the police come calling in their investigation and ask the 40 or so nuns to raise their hands, none respond. They mislead, they are sly, mischievous. left alone, they let their hair down a bit, some even skinny dip together. And they don't smell so good. We are too often reminded of this, for example on page 251 as one of the nuns enters a convent bathroom: "...the familiar smell of sour, wasted feminINity hit her." And on page 306, as one of the nuns sits: "...with a waft of incense and body odour". I'll spare you more, and the penguin reference. Interestingly, there are no nun research references in the acknowledgements.

And the climax is rather dull. In the end, everything fits, everything, every thing. I think I'll skip future Bolton novels, but I do suggest if there is interest in her books, her earlier stand alone novels should be considered. Note those especially that were nominated for awards. ( )
  maneekuhi | Nov 26, 2017 |
Sharon Bolton is a relatively new author to me. I can't believe it has taken me this long to find her! And find her, boy did I in this book. I have read one other book by her, "Little Black Lies", which I also gave a five star rating. I will definitely be picking up every book of hers I see now.

Wow!!!!!!! WHAT A GREAT READ!! I sped through this book. A story that begins with a hot balloon ride wherein the passengers witness a murder. One of the passengers, Jessica, takes a picture of the murderer and the murderer has a picture of her in his mind. He is hellbent to find her and he will.

This story has so many twists. The biggest twist I didn't even see coming even though the hints were there. They were so well disguised that I literally said "OMG" out loud!! I mean they were staring me in the face even - I won't say how so as not to spoil it. However, you will figure it out once you've read the book.

Pulse racing, thrilling, unputdownable I enjoyed the heck out of this book!

Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. ( )
  debkrenzer | Oct 18, 2017 |
I am a huge Sharon Bolton fan. Her latest does not disappoint. I really wish I could figure out how her mind works because then I might be able to figure out what is going on in her books. Every time I figure out what I think is going to happen, something else takes it in another direction! She is simply one of the best writers I have ever read. In this book, two sisters take a balloon ride, celebrating one's birthday. While in the air, they observe a murder. That is just the start. The action takes off from there and never stops. Great, great story! ( )
  Susan.Macura | Sep 23, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0552172634, Paperback)

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 08 Feb 2017 13:16:16 -0500)

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There's just one survivor. She's seen the killer's face - but he's also seen hers. And he won't rest until he's eliminated the only witness to his crime. Alone, scared, trusting no one, she's running to where she feels safe - but it could be the most dangerous place of all. The twelve sightseers in a hot-air balloon are drifting over Northumberland. They're passing over an isolated farmhouse when Jessica and her sister, Bella see a man killing a young woman. Everyone in the balloon is watching the man when he looks up and spots them. He only has one option-- to kill them all. After a furious crash the balloon crashes, and Jessica's the only survivor. She's seen his face-- and he won't rest until he's eliminated the only witness to his crime.… (more)

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