Adesewa Awobadejo reviews a thriller that has stood the test of time.
Thrillers are created to be a difficult experience, and non-fiction thrillers especially are a challenge to digest. The realisation that the various shock factors and the heightened suspense are caused by real life events is mind-boggling. Murder in the Heart is a harrowing tale of domestic violence. Written in 1993, the book is based on events starting from the 1950s to 1988 in Lancashire, England. As old as the book may be, it is an authentic thriller which I still find gripping. The investigator who narrates the book is engaging, but the perspective is relatable to the reader, meaning you can dive right in.
While suffering from an epileptic fit, Tommy Thompson is shot by each of his daughters, June and Hilda. During their trial the hidden mental, physical, and sexual abuse begins to manifest. The book explores the extremely disordered and sadistic man, Tommy Thompson, while revealing the dark and shocking abuse he put his wife and daughters through all their lives which ultimately led them to kill him.
“The fact that the story is based on a true-life story made it easier for me to connect with the characters and almost envision real-life people.”
Murder in the Heart touches on many interesting themes, with domestic violence being the most prominent. At times the reader can become enraged with judgement against Mrs Thompson for not attempting to protect not only herself but also her young daughters from such grotesque abuse. However, you begin to sympathise with Mrs Thompson after discovering her first and only attempt to escape failed. The story succeeds in raising important questions on domestic abuse by investigating both perspectives: the victims and the perpetrators. The fact that the story is based on a true-life story made it easier to connect with the characters and almost envision real-life people; making it all the more harrowing. The author’s use of precise and descriptive language coupled with the reader’s imagination allowed us to envision everything in perfect clarity, which in some scenes, was highly unsettling.
Throughout the book I found myself having to take breaks to simply close the book and take a deep breath; that’s how much suspense it featured!
Personally, I’m not a fan of thrillers and I find non-fiction difficult to read. However, I wanted to challenge myself. I’m glad I chose Murder in the Heart. The story is extremely interesting and, for me, broke all my pre-existing mental barriers. If you’re someone who’s interested in thrillers, crime, or just books in general, I would definitely recommend it.