My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had Every Breath on my to-read list for a long time, and after meeting Ellie Marney at the Reading Matters conference I made the decision to READ it. I am so glad I did. It is a great mystery novel with a nice raw edge to it. Set in Melbourne, this mystery follows neighbours (Rachel) Watts and (James) Mycroft in their investigation of the death of a homeless friend, Dave. The police investigation, headed by Detective Pickup (great name), is looking at the death as a “sport” killing of opportunity. Mycroft and Watts think there is more to it, and so begins the fast-moving story of their own investigations into the killing.
Watts is a girl who is still trying to find her feet after moving to the city from the country, still trying to find her space and where she fits in to the rapid pace of her new home. Mycroft is a guy who thrives on city life, has a chequered past and seems to teeter on a knife edge most of the time. The way Marney builds the relationship between these two is fabulous, not going too over the top and highlighting their strong friendship before exploring anything more between them.
No words are wasted in this novel, not by the characters and not by Ellie Marney. Her language is precise and effective at every turn. The minute I read the word “cogitating” in the novel I knew Marney was a quality writer. It seems small, I know, but many writers would use this word when it did not apply or add anything to the story. When used to describe Mycroft thinking, it totally nailed it for me. I could absolutely picture him in my mind, cogitating.
Watts starts this story as an angry young woman – who is finding it very difficult to cope with her family and her sense of displacement. She and Mycroft are like opposite sides of a coin, joined together along the edges. Their fates are tied together for better or worse. Mycroft is a wonderful character – at once charming and infuriating and a little scary. We discover his parent’s death in a carjacking has made his behaviour erratic and he has been a patient in a mental hospital. He is struggling as much as Watts. They are both displaced in some way. Through his friendship with Watts, Mycroft learns he can rely on people other than himself, without sacrificing who he is.
The supporting characters are great too. Mai is my favourite, the legal studies student with all the answers when it comes to police procedure, she is cute and quirky and I hope she features in the next book too.
There are a number of fantastic set pieces throughout the novel, including a breathtaking scaffold climb that jangled the nerves of this acrophobe! As the clues fall into place, Watts and Mycroft race off to find the last piece of the puzzle, and walk into a life-threatening situation.
The scenes where Mycroft and Watts confront the murderer and are placed in mortal peril (can’t tell you what, exactly – spoiler, but WOW!) are really tense, and tautly written too. Once I started this I couldn’t put it down. Can’t wait now to read Every Word.
Recommended for ages 13 and up.