Killing Daniel by Sarah Dobbs – A book review by John Rutter

I’m so pleased to welcome John Rutter, fellow guest editor, back onto the Hub today. Here, John reviews Killing Daniel, by Sarah Dobbs, which is due for release next month published by Unthank Books.


Killing Daniel – A book to read twice.

There is something exciting about having a pre-release copy of a book to review and I approached Killing Daniel with trepidation.  What kind of book will it be? What if it lets me down?  What if my review doesn’t do it justice?  As it turns out I didn’t need to bring any tension of my own to the book.

The story begins with a memory of the dramatic death of Daniel and the reader is hooked.  We have a mission; who killed Daniel and why?  We meet Fleur in a dirty old town somewhere near Manchester and an unhappy marriage and we see Chinatsu’s life in Japan; her marriage to wealthy businessman Yugi is also fraught.  As we follow their parallel stories, we quickly realise that Fleur and Chinatsu once knew each other and have a deep connection, a bond that will surely draw them together again, and a thread of hope for them both.

Everywhere there are secrets and lies; there is an undercurrent of infidelity and violence. The sexual drives of the characters act as an engine for the story, and we are shown their feelings through the passion they act out.  We know an intense climax is coming and I found myself turning the pages ever faster until, all too quickly I had devoured it.

I like to measure a book by the way it makes me feel at the end.  Once in a while I want to read it all over again, and this time I had good reason to (I’d made no notes.) I really feel like I have read two books.  Killing Daniel is a fast-paced thriller bursting with vivid imagery, passionate characters we care about and a plot that builds tension.  But on another level there are possibilities and doubts; a perspective on life and loss, an insight into the way our minds work.

The blurb describes Killing Daniel as a cross-cultural thriller and the descriptions of the contrasting worlds give a rich texture to the story but there is something else going on here.  Somewhere between the contrasting cultures there is another space, that uncertain place where hopes and dreams and the real world meet, a place where a memory might be imagined or idealised.  The alchemy of this book is that those dimensions and the building conflicts of the two women’s stories intertwine so neatly that you can’t see any joints.

So if you enjoy complex and interesting literary fiction that asks questions about the human condition or if you just want to read a cracking thriller, then read Killing Daniel.  You’ll probably want to read it twice.


Killing Daniel is released on 5 November.

Killing Daniel now has its own Facebook page:


Sarah Dobbs has a PhD in Creative Writing, which almost stopped her from writing, but hasn’t quite. Her novel Killing Daniel is out in November with Unthank Books. It will be launched in Norwich at the Unlit Festival. Previous work has been broadcast by the BBC, read at Bolton Octagon and published by SWAMP, Flax and StepAway magazine. Her story, Hachiko, to be published in Unthology 3, has just been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You can follow her on Twitter @sarahjanedobbs




Watch this Space…

Sarah Dobbs kindly agreed to do an interview for LWH about Killing Daniel.  She has some fascinating thoughts on sex and violence and on the relationship between readers and writers.  Watch out for the interview with Sarah Dobbs on LWH.


John D Rutter is a Preston based writer who is shortly to complete his MA at Lancaster University.  He writes short stories of which several have been published in the Lancashire Evening Post.  John is a frequent contributor to LWH and has reviewed books by Jenn Ashworth and Zoe Lambert for LWH.


3 Responses to “Killing Daniel by Sarah Dobbs – A book review by John Rutter”

  1. VictoriaJL says:

    Great review John, I can’t wait to read Killing Daniel, seem to have been waiting for so long for it to be released. Looking forward to reading Sarah’s interview too. ;-)

  2. ev says:

    my niece so proud x

  3. Peter Ford says:

    Interim comment – an instant-grab read not for the faint-hearted! A murder mystery with a difference. I opened the book and three chapters had gone in one gulp before I realised I was reading it. More anon.

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