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I, Witness by Niki MacKay

I witness is the first book that introduces us to Madison Attallee, former Police detective who lost her job, her marriage and her family to the bottom of a bottle. Having managed to get clean, she has started her own private investigation firm and although she’s been getting some work she suddenly find’s herself in a meeting with a new client from a case she worked with the Police, a murder case. Only the perpetrator Kate Reynold’s sits in front of Madison and says she thinks she’s innocent.

The series starts off with a strong introduction to un unknown narrator who gives us a view into her world as it ends. A sad description of a woman that had spent her days in a fragile and fearful state, a reluctant mother and a reluctant wife to a husband she’d hoped would save her.

When Kate is released from prison she returns to a flat in the same area that holds memories of her life before Naomi was murdered, she struggles to adjust to life on the outside and is reliant on her therapist Dean Hall, who has been her sole confidant throughout her prison sentence. Her first morning in the flat is interrupted by her brother bringing by some essentials and they briefly discuss her sentence. But, as time goes by she begins to realise that her family know more about what happened that night than they are letting on, and they never let her in on what it was.

Claudia Reynolds is Kate’s sister-in-law, married to her brother Marcus. Claudia presents herself as the perfect stepford wife. Nothing is out of place in her home, everything is clean and tidy. The meals are tasty and always cooked from scratch and her three year old Bethany tows the line perfectly too. But underneath Claudia is terrified of her husband’s temper, of whether he will harm her like he has before and feels trapped. Instead of a cell she has a spacious four bedroom house as her prison. Claudia is a clever woman with a law degree of her own, and is far from stupid. She can’t work out how this happened to her and she is one of my favourite characters in this book because she is not someone on paper you would assume would fall victim to domestic abuse, Niki really handles it all tastefully.

Anthea Andrews is Naomi’s bereaved mother and the grief she feels is palpable and pours off of the page by the bucketload. Her marriage has suffered immeasurably by her daughter’s death. Anthea cannot let go of any of the pain she feels, feeling that if she let go at all she would be betraying her daughter’s memory. However, knowing what we know about Kate Reynolds, that she may in fact not be responsible for the death of Naomi, Anthea’s actions are understandable but slightly… grating.

Then their is Madison, whom we get to know quickly as a woman who lost her family to her alcohol addiction, as well as her job. But when we meet her she is determined to fight her way out and have a relationship with her daughter Molly. Madison takes us on a whirlwind investigation into a section of society who would really rather not discuss these things, who missed warning signs and parents who weren’t present and really parenting their wild teenagers at all.

But, with all that said, there is a terrible secret that changes everything for the Reynold’s family and for Anthea Andrew’s finding closure and justice for her daughters’ death. Ruth Reynolds, the mother of Marcus, Martha and Kate. Marcus who has sort of made it to adulthood ok, aside from his need to hit women. Martha who had more mental health problems than anyone seemed to understand and then Kate who just wanted to get out of that house and away. Ruth who committed suicide and carried her secret to her grave.

A well structured and well paced book, with fascinating characters. I can’t praise the characterisation more, for me this is Niki MacKay’s strongest asset as a writer, her characters have substance and are real, they seem like they could be people who walk down the street.

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