It’s far too long since I last reviewed a book by Paula Daly – in fact her novel The Mistake I Made (the basis for the recent television series Deep Water) was one of the earliest reviews I ever wrote on Linda’s Book Bag and you can see that review (and how the blog has evolved) here. My very grateful thanks to Hayley Barnes for sending me a surprise copy of Paula Daly’s latest book, Clear My Name, in return for an honest review.
Clear My Name was published by Penguin imprint Bantam Press on 5th August 2019 and is available for purchase through these links.
Clear My Name
When Carrie was accused of brutally murdering her husband’s lover, she denied it. She denied it when they arrested her, when they put her in front of a jury, and when they sent her to prison.
Now she’s three years into a fifteen-year sentence, away from the daughter she loves and the life she had built. And she is still denying that she is to blame.
Tess Gilroy has devoted her life to righting wrongs. Through her job for Innocence UK, a charity which takes on alleged miscarriages of justice, she works tirelessly to uncover the truth.
But when she is asked to take Carrie’s case, Tess realises that if she is to help this woman, she must risk uncovering the secrets she has struggled a lifetime to hide . . .
We’ve all done things we’re not proud of…
My Review of Clear My Name
Tess spends her life trying to overturn miscarriages of justice.
Clear My Name is a hugely entertaining read. Paula Daly takes what should be a straightforward premise – those wrongfully convicted should be freed from prison – and then wrongfoots her reader at every turn as she forces them to confront her blurred presentation of morality so that by the end of the story I wasn’t entirely sure of right and wrong. I was so wrapped up in the events that I read the book in one uninterrupted sitting as I couldn’t wait to find out what happened.
The narrative is deftly plotted meaning that I had no idea whether Carrie was innocent or guilty as Tess tried to uncover the facts behind her conviction. I loved the way Paula Daly gradually uncovered evidence in a way that placed me in a similar position to Alice, learning from Tess, as the narrative progressed. I’m still not sure what I feel about Carrie, now I know the outcome of the story, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to see what happens! I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace of the novel and the drip feeding of Tess’s background as the investigation progresses too.
I found Tess a fascinating character and Clear My Name was actually more about her than Carrie, whose conviction is the catalyst for the action. Tess is multifaceted with many flaws, and the parallels between her own experiences and the other women in Clear My Name, made me think hard about what constitutes morality, or good and bad behaviour, particularly in relationships. Paula Daly shows her readers completely successfully that the distinction isn’t always clear cut. I think it is a sign of good writing and a compelling character that I’m still thinking about Tess and wondering what is happening to her now that the novel is over.
Clear My Name is clever, entertaining and full of thought provoking aspects that I really appreciated. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and recommend it very highly.
About Paula Daly
Paula Daly is the acclaimed author of six novels. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year award, and her books have been developed for the new ITV television series, Deep Water, starring Anna Friel. She was born in Lancashire and lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children, and whippet, Skippy.