Letters To My Daughter's Killer
Novelist Cath Staincliffe poses this question in her heart-wrenching study on a mother's search for understanding, written in epistolary form as letters to her daughter, Lizzie's murderer. In them she pours out her anguish as she reveals the devastating effect the crime has had on her, her family and friends four years earlier. It's a story of the life sentences the families of victims serve because of the actions of others who either don't care or don't think about the ramifications of their crimes.
Cath Staincliffe never ceases to amaze me. As the author of the Sal Kilkenny private eye mysteries set in Manchester, the creator and scriptwriter of the Blue Murder ITV series and the novels based on the Scott & Bailey TV detective series, her stories are full of action, twists and turns and unexpected outcomes at the end of her well-plotted work.
But reading Cath's standalone psychological novels, with their true-to-life moral dilemmas, one could be forgiven for thinking they're written by another author, for the style, themes and language are so completely different. They're full of emotional pull; thought-provoking with characters who leap out of the pages; credible situations that could happen to any of us; superbly written and loaded with fine detail that give her books a more literary feel.
Letters to My Daughter's Killer was selected for the Crime Thriller Bookclub on ITV3 and given the thumbs up by a panel of well-known authors. Nobody puts it better than crime writer, Val McDermid when she says: 'It's always exciting to see a writer get better and better and Cath Staincliffe is doing just that.'
Ruth Sutton lives in Manchester. In her first letter to her daughter's murderer, she reveals immediately her passionate hatred for him; nothing can change that. Written in first person, Ruth gradually unfolds the story that she needs to get out of her head. The passing years have increased her desire for vengeance, for it is killing her inside. She needs to move away from it before she is also destroyed.
The strength of her hatred is revealed on the first page. She asks for no replies, she just wants him to read her letters but what she does want is some answers. The man has lied and denied the crime and she needs to know how her daughter died and why, so she is going to face him with the destruction he has ravaged for his victim's mother.
Ruth works at the local library in a south Manchester suburb. One evening in September 2009, she is alone at home with Milky the cat. She has been divorced for two years from husband Tony. Her daughter Lizzie's husband Jack phones to say Lizzie has been killed. Nothing will ever be the same.
Her letters describe how it felt being told and witnessing the crime scene when it was too late. Cath gets right to the heart of how any mother might feel in such a situation, the emotions she might go through - shock, disbelief, horror, questions, grief, memories and reality. Ruth tries to imagine how the murderer would have been feeling having committed the crime. Any more would be a spoiler, so I recommend reading this book, along with any of Cath's other standalone novels.
Letters To My Daughter's Killer is published by C&R Crime, an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd, 2014.
Cath's website gives details of all her books and scripts: www.cathstaincliffe.co.uk