Book Review: The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

I was lucky enough to be given an advance review copy of ‘The Murder of Graham Catton’ by the publisher – and I am so glad I was, as it’s BRILLIANT (and out now #drowninginbooks). Here’s the blurb:

Ten years ago, Hannah Catton’s husband was brutally murdered in their home.
The murderer was convicted. The case was closed.
But now a podcast called Conviction is investigating this horrific crime – and they have Hannah in their sights.
Someone knows more than they’re letting on, and listeners are about to become judge, jury and executioner as they undercover the truth about the murder of Graham Cat
ton.”

The book follows two timelines – back in 2008 when Hannah’s husband Graham is murdered – and then in 2018 when a true crime podcast decides to investigate the crime, as the lad convicted for it has always protested his innocence. The book is very clever at showing the way now, in the age of social media, that something like a podcast can bring a ‘pile on’ to the people / victims / potential murderers that is a curse of our age. It’s frightening to see how that develops. It’s also disturbing (and I suspect true in real life) how many people are prepared to sell out a friend or family member for the sake of their 15 minutes of fame in a podcast.

During the book Hannah appears to be something of an unreliable narrator. She claims no memory of what happened a decade ago and is clearly ‘haunted’ by her dead husband. Hannah also works at a psychiatric facility for teenage girls with eating disorders – and her knowledge as a psychiatrist is evident in her own musings but also in her relationship with her family and friends – as she’s hyper aware of what they may be thinking of her and themselves. I do think that sometimes stops Hannah from opening up to people and admitting how she’s feeling as she doesn’t want to be judged. If she’d just talked to people it could have changed various outcomes.

The relationship between Hannah and her daughter Evie in both timelines is written really well. From the small innocent child when her father was murdered, to the slightly stroppy teenager when everything is brought up again 10 years later. I found this a really believable element of the book (being the mother of a teenage daughter – and with a pre teen called Evie!). I also loved the relationship between Hannah’s new partner Dan, and Evie – he was a great step Dad and clearly provided stability for Evie when her Mum was being a bit flaky.

Hawkwood House looms large – literally and figuratively – in the book. It’s an old psychiatric facility where Hannah’s Grandmother was incarcerated for murdering her husband and child. It has a magnetic hold over Hannah – and when she randomly bumps into an ex colleague who is hoping to refurbish it and start her own facility for women only, it really piques Hannah’s interest. The descriptions of the house and it’s decaying condition before the refurbishment starts is brilliantly described – and quite scary.

Throughout the book there are twists and turns, and you’re not sure who you should be suspicious of! I’d suspected loads of different people in both timelines and still didn’t get either right – which I think shows what a great book this is.

It is quite dark – and there are some pretty gruesome descriptions at times – but that just added to the content. It’s really well written and the characters really well constructed.

It’s pretty rare for me to give 5 stars on Net Galley – I have to be blown away to click on that 5th star – but this is a full house of stars from me. A really excellent crime / mystery / thriller read.