After two months of confusion, First Monday Crime is finally back where it belongs – on a first Monday! As we attempt to get back to normal, we have a fantastic panel for you – Imran Mahmood (I Know What I Saw), Dorothy Koomson (All My Lies Are True), Jo Spain (The Perfect Lie) and Patricia Marques (The Colours of Death). Our very own Sophie Goodfellow will be asking the questions and kicking off proceedings on Monday 7th June, 7.30pm BST on our Facebook page. Before I give you my thoughts on our debut book, here’s the blurb for The Colours of Death.
In the Gare do Oriente, a body sits, slumped, in a stationary train. A high-profile man appears to have died by throwing himself repeatedly against the glass. But according to witnesses, he may not have done this of his own accord.
Lisbon 2021. A small percentage of the population are diagnosed as Gifted. Along with the power comes stigma and suspicion.
In a prejudiced city, Gifted Inspector Isabel Reis is hiding her own secrets while putting her life on the line to stop an ingenious killer.
A violent and mysterious crime. Suspected Gifted involvement. A city baying for blood. And a killer who has only just begun . . .
This is a very accomplished debut by Patricia Marques. Set in Lisbon, we follow Inspector Isabel Reis as she investigates the death of a high-ranking official. But Isabel is no ordinary detective. She’s Gifted. The Gifted are a group of people who have extraordinary powers – either telepathy or telekinesis. Perhaps not surprisingly, they are viewed with suspicion by Regulars or ordinary people. When I first heard about this aspect of the book, I wasn’t too sure whether it would work. But it does and brilliantly so. By the end of the novel, it felt completely natural to have the Gifted around. It’s a very clever way to look at prejudice and stigma and how fear propels control.
Isabel’s Gift is telepathy. There are strict rules around her using her Gift and she’s not allowed to read a witness’s mind without their permission. But she can pick up on emotions and sees them as colours – hence the title of the book. I have to say now, that this is the most beautiful proof I’ve ever seen. And it came with a recipe card! That’s another thing that really centres this book and keeps it in the real world – Portuguese food and family life. It takes energy to power Isabel’s Gift so that involves eating a lot of food. It’s a great way to find out more about Portuguese cuisine. Flashback chapters tells us about Isabel’s childhood and how she adjusted to her new Gift and the effect it had on her family.
The plot itself is a slow-burn initially but as this is the first in a series, there’s a lot to fit in with regards to introducing Inspector Isabel Reis and her back story. It does pick up though as the case develops. Aiding Isabel is Inspector Aleks Voronov. As a Regular who had grassed up his previous Gifted colleague for criminal activity, Isabel is unsure about trusting him. He’s definitely an enigma and I’m sure there’s more to come from him in the next instalment.
I really enjoyed this book and want to visit Lisbon now, despite the cold weather portrayed in this novel. This was a good way of adding atmosphere as it took us away from the presumed norm of the warm, sunny climate that Portugal is known for.
As we’re left with a possible new investigation at the end, I’m hoping there’s more to come from Inspector Isabel Reis. Although we learn quite a lot about her in this book, it feels as though we’ve only scratched the surface. I look forward to reading the next novel.
The Colours of Death will be published on Thursday 17th June so you can pre order here or check out your local independent bookshop.
Remember to come and join us on Monday 7th June at 7.30pm BST on First Monday – A Regular Night of Murder and Mayhem for Crime Fiction Folk | Facebook to hear from Patricia herself.
Half-Angolan and half-Portuguese, Patricia Marques was born in Portugal but moved to England when she was eight. As well as an MA in Creative Writing from City University, she holds a BA in Creative Writing from Roehampton. She lives in London and The Colours of Death is her first novel.