I am flabbergasted! I didn’t expect the end at all. There are so many twists, and every one of them was a surprise.
The first twist is when Frieda discovers that the woman murdered was not Deborah Docherty, but Shelley Walsh’s mother. I have to say I didn’t understand why Frieda took such an interest in Shelley, and even though the woman expressed her discontent with Frieda’s visits, she kept coming over. The questions wandered from the crime, and Frieda kept asking her about her mother and how she felt. According to Shelley, her mother was a terrible mother, who drunk and didn’t care about her, and then just after the Docherty’s crime, she didn’t bother to see her daughter anymore. Shelley admits that her mother wasn’t happy when she moved to the squat, so she kept coming, begging her to return home, but Shelley just couldn’t return to that life.
For some reason Frieda feels there is something there. She thinks it is strange that a woman like Justine Walsh would disappear and wouldn’t even contact her daughter. So she decides to investigate the woman; she goes to the missing persons’ bureau, and nobody ever reported Justine Walsh missing. Then she thinks that she might be dead, so she asks the police officer to check the dead bodies unidentified. There aren’t many, and as she checks thirteen of them, there is one that might be the woman. So she returns to Shelley with Sasha who is a geneticist, and even though Shelley is reticent, she eventually lets Sasha take a sample. Yet, when the tests come back, they are negative. Then for some reason Frieda has an idea. In a visit to Hannah, Frieda has washed the woman’s hair and combed it, and she has kept the comb. So she sends the comb to be tested, and to my total astonishment it turns out that the unidentified body is Deborah Docherty’s and the woman in the bed is Shelley’s mother Justine.
Despite the new facts, the police refuses to reopen the case, so Frieda continues her own investigation. As she keeps talking to the witnesses and people who knew the Docherty’s, she learns that Aidan Locke had a short fling with his neighbour, something the woman’s husband knew about, but he is not bitter about it. She also learns that after separating and being with other people, Deborah and Seamus slept a few times, but the man claims that finished way before the murder. From Seamus she learns that Deborah had an abortion just before the murder. She knows that the baby couldn’t be Aidan’s because from the medical records she learnt that Aidan had testicular cancer, so she couldn’t have any children. So Frieda knows that Deborah was having an affair, but not the identity of her lover.
What Frieda thinks happened is that Aidan was killed somewhere else and then taken to the house. The put it in the bedroom, but he didn’t’ count with Justine Walsh being in the house to talk to Deborah about her daughter, so he had to kill her. Then he had to call Rory because he was there as well. Then he found Deborah, killed and buried her where she remained for years unidentified.
The fact that cinches the fact was when Frieda goes to see Hannah and asks her to show her tattoos. There are lots of them, and she guesses that the three crosses represent herself, her brother and the unborn fetus, which means that Hannah knew about her mother’s affair. Eager to know about the tattoos, she talks to one of the inmates who made the tattoos. The woman says that there is one of the tattoos Hannah made, one that represents the locket that her mother wore. Then Frieda realises the importance of that.
First, she goes to see Levin, who confirms that he knew the truth all along. Then she meets Ben Sedge, the detective in charge of the case, Yvette Long, and two other detectives in a conference room at the police station. Then Frieda explains what she now knows for sure. There is a first photograph of Justine Walsh’s body that had no locket. Frieda had talked to an ex-detective that was in the scene of the crime first, and she confirmed that she got the photographer first without waiting for forensics, which got her a scold from Ben Sedge. The second photograph is minutes later, and in this case Justine has the locket around her neck. This means that whoever killed her put the locket back and it was someone who had access to the bodies. So Frieda accuses Ben Sedge, and even though at first the man denies everything, he finally caves in. He is the man Deborah had an affair with, the man who got her pregnant. Apparently, Deborah met him when Hannah got into trouble with the police once, and Deborah wen to the police station. Sedge confesses to having destroyed that file, and he also confesses to killing the family apart from Justine Walsh because he was angry as Deborah wanted to leave him and because she had got rid of his child. Then he framed Hannah for the crime. Even in his confession, Ben Sedge believes he is a good man but he has done some bad things, and it is interesting how Frieda reflects that many men and women are so in denial that they still believe they are still good despite their actions.
Frieda’s discoveries come too late. We have seen through the book how Hannah was in danger as one of the other inmates Mary had plans to hurt her with some other patients. Yet, in the end Hannah manages to defend herself in the attack, and she goes to Mary’s room, and as she tells her that she will be the first she will kill, she does just that. So when Frieda learns what has happened, she is gutted as all her efforts to get Hannah released are been in vain because now Hannah has killed someone, and she will have to remain locked there. Frieda claims she will fight to make the judge see that it is the circumstances that made Hannah kill Mary. She has been abused, beaten, isolated for thirteen years, and this has been her reaction against what hurt her so much. Yet, deep down Frieda knows she won’t be able to do much for Hannah. The way the authors portray the mental hospital is really terrible, and it is very sad to see how this poor woman had to endure a totally unfair situation because she was charged with a crime she never committed, and then the way she was treated for years led to her insanity. I hope that in the real world mental hospitals are not like the one portrayed here.
The very end of the book is quite shocking. As Frieda investigated Hannah’s case, she also found out that the presence that she felt in her house was Dean Reeve. When Josef shows her some photos of her children, she sees another picture. It is Dean, and Jose tells her that it was Marty, someone he worked with some months ago. So Frieda knows Dean can easily have got hold of Josef’s keys and have some spares cut. What she does is to change all the locks in her house, and feeling contaminated by this man’s presence, she throws away all her clothes, sheets, duvets and even food. Then she tells Levin and Keegan, who put her into contact with someone called Bruce Stringer, who is an expert in finding people. Frieda doesn’t know what she will do if Bruce Stringer finds Dean Reeve, but she thinks this will prove to the police that she is not paranoid. Bruce talks to those on the list that Frieda gives him in connection with Dean. Then one day he calls, telling her that he has something to tell her. They arrange to meet in a pub, but when Frieda goes there, he never turns up. At once I knew that something has happened to him, and Frieda feels it as well, and she tells Keegan, but he is not very worried at first.
Then the end comes, a terrible cliffhanger. Josef is in Frieda’s home, and she tells him about some some problem with her pipes as if mice might have got into them or something. Josef thinks it is not the pipes, but something under the floorboards in the livingroom. So Josef uses a crossbar to lever up a floorboard, and there they discover the cause of the noise. There were dozens of maggots, and they were on the body of Bruce Stringer. It is clear that Dean killed Stringer and hid the body in Frieda’s house to make her see the power he had. Josef calls the police, and as Frieda hears the sirens outside the house, the book ends. Wow!!! That was a real cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to read the next instalment, which hasn’t been published yet. I imagine that in the next book, which I guess is the last one in the series, Dean will finally be found out, and I really hope nothing happens to Frieda.