Speak of the Devil by Rose Wilding

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: June 13th, 2023

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Fiction, Contemporary, Adult, Crime, LGBT, Suspense

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

All of us knew him. One of us killed him…

Seven women stand in shock in a seedy hotel room; a man’s severed head sits in the centre of the floor. Each of the women – the wife, the teenager, the ex, the journalist, the colleague, the friend, and the woman who raised him – has a very good reason to have done it, yet each swears she did not. In order to protect each other, they must figure out who is responsible, all while staying one step ahead of the police.

Against the ticking clock of a murder investigation, each woman’s secret is brought to light as the connections between them converge to reveal a killer.

A dark and nuanced portrait of love, loyalty, and manipulation, Speak of the Devil explores the roles in which women are cast in the lives of terrible men…and the fallout when they refuse to stay silent for one moment longer.

First Line:

Fireworks pop and fizzle in the dark sky above the city, hours before the new millennium, and Maureen watches them for a seconda before she pushed the window open and closes the curtains.

Speak of the Devil by Rose Wilding

New Year’s Eve 1999—Seven women gather in a hotel room and stare in shock at a man’s head on the bed. Each woman has been involved with this man and hurt at one point in their life. And each woman denies killing him. To protect each other, they must figure out who in their group killed the man and stay one step ahead of the police. Is it the wife, the pregnant teenager, the ex-girlfriend, the journalist, the colleague, the friend, or the woman who raised him?

Speak of the Devil is a fast-paced, often confusing book. I don’t get confused while reading; I did with this. This book didn’t lag, even with all the jumping from past to present and back again. The author kept the flow going despite the plotline going back and forth in time.

Speak of the Devil takes place in the Northumbria region of Scotland. The author did a great job of painting a picture of the towns portrayed from 1964 through 1999. I also liked that she weaved the local accents into the storyline. She did it so that it didn’t take away from the book. Instead, those accents added to it.

The main storyline in Speak of the Devil revolves around Jamie and the women he has bullied, abused, and treated like poo. I will warn you all that there are numerous POVs, eight in total, and each of these POVs travels back and forth in time. I am not a big fan of multiple POVs, but the author made it work in this book. But, I did have to take notes about the different relationships, which took away from my reading pleasure.

I didn’t like Jamie, but at the same time, I did feel bad for him. He was raised by a woman who couldn’t stand him. Those scenes, towards the end of the book, hurt my heart. He might have turned out differently if he had shown a little love and compassion. Each of the seven relationships showed a different side of Jamie. But, a common theme was running through them: He had an insane desire for control and wasn’t afraid to do whatever it took to get what he wanted. He did get what he deserved in the end.

The female characters, for the most part, were well-written. They weren’t as fleshed out as they should have been. I also felt some were written as cliche (Sarah comes to mind instantly). But overall, I enjoyed reading their stories and liked that the present-day storyline had a girl power theme running through it.

The mystery angle of the book was well written. I thought the killer was someone else and was very surprised when the author made the reveal. It was not who I thought it was, and it did surprise me. Looking back, the author was very clever with her red herrings and secondary storylines pointing at one person.

The book’s thriller angle didn’t jump out and scream at me as much as I wanted it to. It was understated and took some time to build. But, once it got going, it was full force.

There was some great LGBT representation going on in the book. Three of the women were lesbians (with two being in a relationship with each other). There was quite a bit of transphobia displayed in the book. I was beyond mad for this woman for 90% of the book, and I couldn’t understand why her job was acting the way it did. Then I remembered—-it was 1999. Understand people and jobs that didn’t discriminate were few and far between.

The end of Speak of the Devil didn’t gel with me. After the murderer was revealed, the author said nothing about what was done to the killer or what happened to the woman in jail for the murder. The only storyline that the author wrapped up well was the one with Nova. The others were left open with no ending other than Jamie’s death. It irritated me. I wouldn’t say I like it when books do that. I wanted at least an epilogue to explain what happens after.

I recommend Speak of the Devil to anyone over 16. There is language, violence, and very mild sexual situations.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and Rose Wilding for allowing me to read and review Speak of the Devil. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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