This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
17.09.20 / Suspense – Psychological Thriller / Orenda Books / Paperback / pp / 978-1913193362
Target Audience: Readers looking for a sensational psychological thriller centred around celebrity status, nefarious accusations and horrific backlash.
About A Song Of Isolation
Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?
Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.
While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world.
Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives … in an instant.
A Song Of Isolation Review
As a frequent visitor of Michael J. Malone’s works I keep thinking I know what to expect going into his latest novel. Yet I am never ready for what comes next. Each of MJM’s stories centre around important and deeply human experiences, such as devastating abuse, unbearable loss and startling truths, suffused with psychological thrills that easily manage to get under the reader’s skin and jab them right in the heart.
Until now, the novels I’ve read have been almost claustrophobic in their intimacy but MJM has taken the experience to a whole other direction in A Song Of Isolation. There is still that intimate internal conflict and suffering that guides his narratives but it exists under the crushing weight of the court of public opinion. It is a clever narrative choice and it works so well as a suspenseful thrilling plot line that takes the reader on a hard and fast journey through public outrage, prison cells and endless humiliation.
The story centres around Amelie Hart, a one hit wonder movie star who has since retreated from the limelight but rarely strays from the public eye. Minding her own business and facing a pivotal moment in her current relationship, Amelie’s life is turned upside down by a knock at the door. Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is carted off by the police for allegedly molesting the neighbour’s 11 year-old daughter Damaris. A girl that Dave was known to give attention too while out working in their garden. Dave is frightened for his life, he knows from this point on he’ll only ever be considered as a paedophile, not matter the truth or the facts. That is a brand that cannot be covered up.
Despite the looming risk of losing her brittle celebrity status Amelie believes in Dave, that he is a kind hearted soul, and in doing so is dragged down as a bitch who must have known all along. Amelie is conflicted because she wants young Damaris to grow up in a world where people dealing with abuse can talk and people will listen and get them the help they need. But her trust in Dave is important too and Amelie’s fame only intensifies the fallout of the accusations. As the plot unfolds we see what happens to Amelie, Dave (as well as his family) and Damaris, a girl who is confused by events, how her life is changing day to day and what everyone is saying about Dave, who was supposed to be her friend.
The public have turned on everyone involved, threats are made, a trial date is set and all their lives will never be the same again. A Song Of Isolation is an intense, unforgettable story of how much devastation can truly be wrought by falsehoods and twisted truths especially under today’s reactive, social media focused lens. And how accusations can rip through a family and anyone connected to the accused causing untold desolation even before a conviction is passed down from a court of law.
There are many strong and clear themes in A Song Of Isolation that affected me greatly from innocence, fame and the justice system to money, power and pure helplessness. And even if you think you know what happened that fateful day, you never really do until the books final moments.
I wholeheartedly have no idea who to feel worse for more in A Song Of Isolation. Amelie, Dave and Damaris are all such great characters. Each of them are lost, confused and desperate for answers. They all have moments in this novel that added to the already massive pit in my stomach that took residence from the first page but I would have to settle for a tie between Dave and Damaris. Don’t get me wrong, Amelie’s time is still incredibly difficult and it is hard to face at times, especially with her past, and the constant threats, that follow her everywhere she goes.
But Dave’s journey through the criminal justice system and Damaris perspective of his alleged crimes are tough to be a part of. Michael J. Malone has always been great at crafting believable and inspired characters who reflect real people facing impossible situations and choices. He has that respectful, organic yet unbearable raw style that becomes almost irresistible, you want to look away but you also need to know the truth. I acknowledge that up until now that I’ve been rather heavy in this review, that is because there is always a real weight to MJM’s words.
Saying that he does find light in the darkest of places though and that has never been more apparent than in A Song Of Isolation. There are moments here that break up MJM perfectly crafted tension, just for a moment, and it highlights the importance of sticking to your guns and believing there will always be an end to the toughest times in your life. Maybe I’m thinking too much into it.
What I can say is that A Song Of Isolation is a tremendous continuation of Michael J Malone’s unforgiving yet charming Scottish psychological thriller collection. New and old fans alike will easily appreciate the work involved with bringing all the dimensions of this story together, how excellent the psychological aspects of this story are fleshed out and how on edge MJM truly makes his readers. I’ve been a huge fan of MJM since I picked up A Suitable Lie and I cannot recommend all of his works enough but for now please support A Song Of Isolation because it is a top tier Scottish thriller novel.
About Michael J. Malone
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines, After He Died and In the Absence of Miracles soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.