Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

Out now from Headline.

They say I’m evil.

The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who sigh on the six o’clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me.

And everyone believes it. Including you.

But you don’t know. You don’t know who I used to be. Who I could have been.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever shake off my mistakes or if I’ll just carry them around with me forever like a bunch of red balloons

Awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution, Emily Koll is going to tell her side of the story for the first time.

Heart-Shaped Bruise is a compulsive and moving novel about infamy, identity and how far a person might go to seek revenge.

A great new fresh voice in psychological crime fiction smashes her way in with this addictive mix which is part ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ part ‘Before I Go To Sleep‘. Set in the world of Archway Young Offenders Institute and within the pages of a found diary by Emily Koll, their most infamous inmate, ‘the Kurt Cobain of the criminally insane’.

Whilst the diary format of the novel might not be a new technique, in this case I found it to be utterly engaging through its narrative, and the central premise which hinges on the ‘sins of the fathers’ theme is very intriguing.

From the get-go, we discover that Emily is seeking out Juliet. Juliet stabbed her father, but the book is far more than a simple tale of revenge, it’s about each character trying to find their own identity, to change who they are on the surface and, if possible, deeper within as well, and all set within some very troubled minds.

This is a fast read, not necessarily through the pace of narrative, but by the drive to solve its riddle, and easily read in a couple of sittings, if you can put the book down.

As a side note, it was sad to note that one of the key scenes within the book, set at Brixton Academy for a concert by The Beastie Boys has sadly suddenly dated the book by the very recent passing of the band’s Adam Yauch just over a week ago – the energy and atmosphere of the concert within the novel is a fitting tribute.

A great debut and definitely one to watch out for in the future.

You can follow Tanya Byrne on twitter @tanyabyrne or check out her blog here.

But, most importantly, you can get your copy here.

Keith

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