Sharon Bairden – Sins Of The Father (Blog Tour)
Published by Red Dog Press, paperback £8.99. I received a proof copy of the novel from the publisher for review purposes. Many thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
First, the official blurb:
Lucas Findlay thinks he has struck gold when he marries Rebecca, but she married him for one reason only – to destroy him.
Trauma runs deep
When her past comes back to haunt her, Rebecca begins to disconnect from herself and the world around her. As secrets are unearthed, she begins to fear for her sanity … and her life.
Truth will out
With her world unravelling around her, Rebecca clings to her determination to make Lucas pay, whatever the cost.
Forgive his sins
But someone must pay for the sins of the father…
Many of you will already know Sharon Bairden, many more of you will have seen her at crime fiction festivals even if you’ve never said hi. She has long been a top book blogger and champion of crime authors at Chapter In My Life – but now it’s time for a new chapter (sorry…) as her debut novel is published. At Bute Noir in August 2019, she read the opening to Sins of the Father at Noir at the Bar. When she finished, there was a moment of stunned silence before the applause, her words were simply so powerful. I doubt there is anyone in that room who hasn’t been waiting impatiently to read the finished book. Was it worth the wait? What a silly question! (Disclaimer: I’ve known Sharon for several years, but as with other friends, when I review their work the only criteria that matters is whether a book is any good. And oh boy is this book good…)
The prologue hits with hurricane force, and I was holding my breath through the paragraphs – until it was grabbed away by the last lines. You will feel this sensation repeatedly throughout the book, so strap in tight before you start.
Stepping back in time, we see Rebecca in childhood; her dad out of the picture, her mum struggling, her only friends the voices in her head. “My others”, she calls them. They bully her and protect her and do things Rebecca couldn’t and wouldn’t. There’s so much horror in these chapters you can’t help but root for Rebecca, to urge her to battle back and win. It’s also painfully obvious how the voices, the others, gain strength. Demons attack her in her nightmares but the monsters damaging her in waking hours are all too human. However, at the end of the first part of the book, there is light at the end of the tunnel – but don’t get comfortable in that moment, for a new cycle is beginning.
In the second part, we meet Rebecca as an adult. She is married with a good job and the respect of her colleagues; she is a serial achiever and in control: “Nothing, or nobody stood in Rebecca’s way, not anymore.” However, by the time we rejoin her, her carefully cultivated new life is actually starting to fray at the edges: her husband Lucas is looking for a way out of their marriage, colleagues and neighbours are whispering, and Samantha, the last remaining voice of the others, is getting more and more bolshy. And then there’s the feeling Rebecca has that someone is watching her – objects in the house are moved, and silent phone calls have her on edge…
Bairden has poured buckets of empathy into her characters, tracing their actions as adults back to the childhood formation of character and the behaviours learned from parents and from circumstances that no child should ever encounter. She shows us how choices about violence, addiction, abuse and more are made again and again through lifetimes and down the generations. I frequently say that crime fiction should deal with real societal issues, and Sins of the Father does this in spades – and with a nuance and ability to inhabit grey areas that is striking for a debut writer.
In the latter part the novel falters a little as the strands are bent hard to form the final pattern, but it reasserts itself as the climax looms and the last blocks are slotted into place to complete this dark, dark picture puzzle. (Tip: when you read the last chapters, pop the big light on, not just your reading lamp. You’ll thank me.)
There’s a quote about writing that says it’s like driving but not knowing where you’re going beyond what you can see in the car headlights, which I felt strongly while reading Sins of the Father – you engage your empathy and invest in the characters, but you never lose your curiosity about where the story is going as it’s never quite in the direction you think, and the ending will keep you guessing til you are in the moment. There’s plenty for the lover of the more psychological, suspenseful novel, while also offering much for those who like nothing better than tough realities in a plot.
It’s a real stunner, especially for a debut – Bairden has undoubtedly worked hard on this novel, but hard work will only take you so far; she also obviously has serious raw talent. Just get over to Red Dog’s website and buy Sins of the Father right now. Go on, shoo!
By day Sharon Bairden is the services manager in a small, local independent advocacy service and has a passion for human rights; by night she has a passion for all things criminal. She blogs about books at ChapterInMyLife and is delighted to be crossing over to the other side of the fence to become a writer. Sharon lives on the outskirts of Glasgow, has two grown up children, a grandson, a Golden Labrador and a cat. She spends most of her spare time doing all things bookish, from reading to attending as many book festivals and launches as she can. She has been known to step out of her comfort zone on the odd occasion and has walked over burning coals and broken glass – but not at the same time!