Free cookie consent management tool by TermsFeed Jump directly to main content

The Crack Magazine

LONG speak of the devil.jpg

Speak of the Devil by Rose Wilding

Rose Wilding’s debut novel begins in arresting fashion. It’s the evening of 31st December 1999 and seven women have gathered together in the attic of a rather seedy hotel in Newcastle. Fireworks light up the sky outside, but the women are not interested in the Millennium festivities happening all around them. They sit in a semi-circle, their bodies all “pointing towards a kind of altar in the middle of the room.” They’re staring at “him”, him being a man – or the severed head of a man, at least. Despite this rather macabre, almost coven-like set-up – and despite the fact that the novel name-checks the Devil in the title – we’re not in occult/supernatural territory here. Turns out the man is Jamie and he was once a real bastard’s bastard – a complete bundle of toxic masculinity – and each of the seven women have a reason to hate him, from spurned ex-lovers to a work colleague. In the new year the head is discovered and Detective Inspector Nova Stokoe – a police woman with doubts about her chosen profession – is assigned to the case. It soon becomes apparent that Nova was formerly in a relationship with one of the seven women. The narrative then flicks back and forth between the current investigation and the past events that detail just how the seven women knew Jamie. If you don’t dwell too much on the slightly strained device of having all these suspects meeting in secret (none of whom show that much interest in finding out who actually beheaded Jamie), then you’ll find yourself fully immersed in a bravura debut novel; an engrossing whodunit that also has plenty to say about social justice. RM

Published by Baskerville

ladybird 3.png