What Remains Of Me by A. L. Gaylin

The Blurb On The Back:

People don’t need to know you’re a murderer.

They just have to think you could be.

On June 28, 1980, Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home and instantly becomes a media sensation.  For years, speculation swirls over the seventeen-year-old’s motives and what really happened that night.  Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom but keeps her secrets to herself.

Thirty years later and five years after her release from prison the past has come back to haunt Kelly.  Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.

Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high profile murder.  But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent of both killings and want to help clear her name.  But is she?

You can order WHAT REMAINS OF ME by A. L. Gaylin from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

On June 28th 1980 17-year-old Kelly Lund murdered the respected film director John McFadden at a wrap party being held at his home.  At her trial the media speculated that she killed him because of a bad screen test but she never spoke in her own defence and took her reasons to prison for her 25 to life sentence.

Released in 2005, she reunited with Shane Marshall (the son of Sterling Marshall – a Hollywood legend and McFadden’s best friend) who she married while still in prison and who runs a successful photography business.  She rebuilt her life but not her friendship with Shane’s sister Bellamy, who built her successful career as an artist by producing works based on Kelly’s crime.  Then in April 2010 Sterling Marshall is found dead, murdered in the same way as McFadden and Kelly again finds herself as the main suspect when CCTV footage emerges that appears to show her at the scene of the crime.

This time there are people who believe she’s innocent, including Sebastian Todd (the Pullitzer nominated journalist who’s book on the McFadden case made his career).  But Kelly’s still got her secrets and it’s possible that she’s guilty of this crime too …

A. L. Gaylin’s crime thriller is an okay but uninspired read that treads the well-worn path of Hollywood’s elite abusing their power and position and the secrets that this creates but while I enjoyed the central friendship in the book, the story’s hampered by dull characters who it’s difficult to relate to.  I wanted to be able to root for Kelly but she’s a pretty bland character and I ultimately couldn’t empathise with her poor little poor girl set-up, especially given that the family set up reads like something out of an American soap.  I did enjoy Kelly’s friendship with the rich and needy Bellamy, even though I guessed some of the twists, but her marriage to Shane never rang true and there isn’t enough interaction between Kelly and her in-laws to explain all the tensions.  Gaylin handles the twin time lines competently but there’s a heavy handedness to the 1980 section, especially with the musical references and ultimately some of the reveals are easy to guess and some of the characters (notably Todd) are effectively plot devices.  Ultimately it’s an okay read but I never really connected with it enough to care about what happened to Kelly.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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