3.5 star

Review: Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

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 . . . 

I had so much trouble placing this one. Even now as I write this up I’m really not sure how to rate it, but I gave it the top of my scale, just to give it the benefit of the doubt. There were so many ups and downs, high points that I loved, low points that I didn’t, and honestly so many things that were both good and bad…I was definitely left confused as to whether I was satisfied with the book or not. Let me explain more below

Dead Woman Walking is about sole survivor of a hot balloon crash, after its riders witness a most grisly murder. The murderer and the sole witness now know each other’s faces, and she knows he’s hunting her down. The problem is, where does she go? Nowhere feels safe, and the killer is always right on her tail.

Honestly even the synopsis leaves us wanting. There is so little detail divulged, but I suppose it is for a good reason. This book had the most twists and turns I have ever experienced. Reveal after reveal, plot twist after plot twist until honestly my head was spinning (in a good way). The plot and storyline in that sense was well written, although there were elements of plausibility that I had a few doubts about.

The characters were all very well crafted and quite meaningful in the end. There was quite an exploration of all the characters (the book being a bit longer than what I’m used to in this genre), though I did appreciate that everyone got to play their part. The author also really played with my expectations here with how the POVs were set up, so kudos to her cleverness there too. Overall I definitely felt for the protagonist as she was running away essentially the entire book.

The suspense was really good here. It wasn’t a super crazy high level tension, but it was definitely higher than “low,” falling into that medium level of suspense. The thing is it never lets down. Not even for a moment do you ever feel relaxed reading this book, which may possibly be too much for some people. I’m not even sure I fully enjoyed that aspect, but the author really knew how to keep me on the hook. If you’re looking for a book with that kind of continuous tension (although possibly a little too drawn out?), then you may enjoy this one.

The ending, which was also in itself not just one moment, was also fairly excellent. There were so many twists and grand reveals at the denouement that I didn’t see coming, that I felt were reasonable to put in (no deus ex machina) so I really wanted to highlight the great resolution. I almost want to call it endings because it felt like there were so many things to be tied up at the end.

However, there were just a couple of spots here and there in the book that just didn’t sit with me quite right. Whether it was a strange description or an implausible motivation, there were a couple of moments where I didn’t totally follow. It is a bit difficult to articulate, but overall I think I enjoyed the experience, even though I think I might’ve liked a few things to be different.

Overall Recommendations

Dead Woman Walking is the story of a sole survivor of a tragic hot air balloon accident. Or was it just an accident? The balloon fell shortly after its riders witnessed a crime take place in the mountains. The killer has seen her face, and she knows his. Who can get to whom first? This is the story of a woman finding a safe space when there’s no one around her that she can trust, and when there is a killer who always seems to be closer to catching her than anyone who can help her. If you enjoy thorough and incessant suspense and tension in a book, this may be the one for you. There are also plenty of twists and turns to make sure you can never keep track of what will happen next.

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