Every parent’s nightmare is to survive your own child. To see them die before your eyes. To see them in the morgue after an autopsy. To answer questions to which you frankly have no answer because you mistook their rants for sheer teen-conform behavior.
And then, when grief ever so slightly lifts the veil of pain just for a moment you realize that you looked away. Are you brave enough then to tell the cops the truth? Do you dare to confess that you knew of your child’s weaknesses?
As James, a grieving parent, says so well in the book “The dead are often seen through rose-tinted glasses, allowing the living to forget difficult and obnoxious behavior. Emily is offering you that rosy portrait of our son as it is too painful to mention his faults. It feels disloyal.”
A teenager is found murdered in the graveyard next to the church. At first sight, it seemed he suffocated. No signs of assault and no defense wounds are visible. At the same time, another teenager is missing. The two sets of parents could not be more different in their general behaviour, manners, and expression of grief. However, remember the words of Shakespeare in Act 1 of the play Macbeth: “Fair is foul and foul is fair.”
The battle between what is good and what is evil is a subjective one that can lead you astray if you value outward appearances. Slowly, DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox discover whose behavior was fair from the beginning. Then the race is on to limit the damage and to prevent more killings.
The author is very strong in describing how grief rips people apart. How it destroys their lives, how they lose faith, and how the loss of a child destroys relationships and marriages.
We see the dynamics in a town small enough for everyone to know each other but also big enough to suffer from the big-city syndrome of anonymity. Some characters are lost, emotionally, and nobody sees it. Some characters gladly use violence and present it as a necessity for good.
The forensics are mentioned but no criminal or forensic procedure is described in detail. That may have been the author’s choice. I just miss it.
I liked it very much that the author used the last chapter as epilogue.
I received a free PDF version of this book through AuthorAmp in exchange for an honest review.
Highly recommended reading but not in the dark. Because that’s when the madness comes to get you!
Hemmie Martin generously took the time to answer three questions.
1: did you have any true crime case in mind when you started to write “In the Light of the Madness?”
HM: “I had no case in mind when I wrote ‘In the Light of Madness’. Many ideas for my writing comes from my experience working as a forensic nurse with young offenders, between the ages of 10-18yrs old, and their families. I often came across a lot of hate, anger and despair during my visits, whether they be home or younger offender institutes (prison visits.) Some families abandon their offspring due to their attitude and behaviour, sending the child into the realms of a gang, where other offending behaviours may fester.
Some mothers would say I had responsibility for their child as they were now classed as a young offender, whereas other mothers sought help by attending parenting groups I would run with other colleges. I say ‘mother’ as the majority of time, that was who I dealt with. However, fathers were involved periodically.
I thought about how desperate some of the mothers were, and to what lengths they may go to to resolve issues. I research cults on the Internet and came across re-birthing, which I thought some mothers might consider.
I also like an element of mental health issues to be raised, hence Wednesday’s mother suffers with schizoaffective disorder with major depressive episodes. My own professional mental health background will always be there, as it was my passion for many years, and still is.”
2: it is mentioned in the book that the name “Vera” does not fit the vicar’s wife. Did you ever consider giving that character a different name?
HM: “I believe it was Wednesday who felt Vera didn’t suit her name, as in the UK it is considered quite old-fashioned, and Vera didn’t fit that persona. Although she tried to conform to being a vicar’s wife, her feistiness would sometimes shine through; translated into anger.
I like to have quirks in my writing, to hopefully challenge the reader about their own perceptions. For example, in my first novel, ‘The Divine Pumpkin’, the young offender is a middle-class, well spoken, and educated girl; yet her crime is horrendous. A woman at a book club asked me why I chose such a crime, and I said, because as the story unfolds, the reader finds him/herself liking the young girl, but hating her crime, so challenging perceptions about who offends and who doesn’t. I came across people with many backgrounds. One young offender who went to a YOI, both his parents were. Teachers, and they were mortified by their situation.”
3: Are Wednedsay & Lennox going to be featured in other books e.g. is this first book the start of a series?
HM: “This is indeed the first book in a DI Wednesday series, along with DS Lennox of course. The second novel, ‘Rightful Owner’ is being published this coming November, and the third one, ‘Shadows in The Mind’ comes out in May 2015. I am currently writing the fourth book, currently titled ‘What Happens After.'”
Hemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France, and currently lives in Essex with her husband, one teenage daughter, Rosie, one house rabbit, and two guinea pigs. Her eldest daughter, Jessica, is studying veterinary medicine.
Her books can be found at Winter Goose Publishing.