When I first came up with the idea for Five Bad Deeds, I didn’t imagine telling the story from so many different points of view. I had my main character, Ellen Walsh, all fleshed out, and Five Bad Deeds was supposed to be very much her story.
However, best laid plans often go awry.
See, at its core, Five Bad Deeds is a story about perception – how we perceive ourselves, how others perceive us, and the occasional yawning gap between those two things. Therefore, it was important that Ellen’s character, and her actions, be seen through the lens of a number of different people – her family, friends and neighbours (and among those, her sworn enemy).
Many crime novels use dual perspectives, flipping back and forth between two central characters. Five Bad Deeds uses seven (although Ellen’s remains the central POV around which all the others rotate). Below is a list of five other novels featuring a veritable buffet of different perspectives!
Into The Water – Paula Hawkins
There’s absolutely no denying this is one complex novel, featuring eleven different narrators and numerous plot lines. The story centres around the murder of single mum, Nel Abbot, who is found dead in the river that runs through the town (a town harbouring big secrets). While eleven POVs may sound hard to keep track of, the novel is so well-crafted, the stories building and interlocking so perfectly, I found it easy and enjoyable to spend time inside so many heads.
Kill Show – Daniel Sweren-Becker
A very recent read. This story centres on the disappearance of teenager, Sara Parcell, who disappears one morning on her way to school – so far, so standard. However, this book is anything but conventional, told as it is in interview format, with key players from the investigation – the police, the journalists, the family, the friends, the armchair detectives – all having their say about what happened to Sara and the part they played. Documentary-style narratives can be divisive, but I challenge anyone not to be drawn into this twisty, propulsive tale.
Unravelling Oliver – Liz Nugent
I read this book on a six-hour flight, barely able to tear my eyes away. It’s certainly a challenging read, unflinching it’s depiction of domestic violence while at the same time intelligently examining the reasons why an abuser might become the way they are. The book opens with Oliver essentially admitting to what he is, then we travel back in time to meet a number of different people who encountered him throughout his life (from a neglected young boy to the adult sociopath he develops into), and it slowly becomes clear that the signs were always there. A difficult read, for sure, but an exceptional 360-degree character study.
The Teacher – Katerina Diamond
Diamond burst onto the UK crime scene with this original debut – the tagline, ‘not for the faint-hearted’ was absolutely spot on. This is a multiple POV story (fourteen!) about the secrets that lie within an exclusive private school, and the extent to which a brutal killer (and I mean brutal) will go to avenge past wrongs. To go too much into the structure would risk giving away spoilers, but let’s just say, you shouldn’t get too attached to any of the characters (as they might not survive!)
One Good Turn – Kate Atkinson.
Atkinson brings her trademark wit and unique understanding of people’s flaws and foibles to this complex crime romp, sparked by a violent road rage incident at the Edinburgh Festival. While Jackson Brodie returns as the main protagonist, this is also the story of Martin, Gloria, Archie and Hamish, all witnesses to the incident, plus many, many more. While the cast of characters is huge, each is brilliantly drawn. Very much an ensemble piece.