Volta by Nikki Dudley

Many thanks to Isabelle Kenyon of Kenyon Author Services, and to Nikki Dudley for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, for which I received a copy of the book. This review forms my honest opinion.

Blurb

WINNER OF THE VIRGINIA PRIZE FOR FICTION

When Briony Campbell confesses to killing her boyfriend, a straightforward crime soon turns into a baffling mystery.

Haunted by demons from his past, lawyer S.J. Robin is assigned to the case. But as confusion – and the body count – rises, he’s forced to question who is guilty and who is innocent.

Can he see justice served and hold on to the woman he loves?

Review

This is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading for some time. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of writing courses run by Nikki, and I’ve always been impressed with how creative and imaginative she is with her own writing in terms of experimentation. However, a novel is a very different beast and I was intrigued as to how her talent would translate in this form.

Volta tells the story of lawyer S.J. Robin as he takes on a new client, Briony Campbell, who has confessed to killing her boyfriend. Briony’s case interweaves and raises his own long held demons to the surface as lines blur whilst the initially straightforward case becomes increasingly gnarled.

The story is told from three points of view, S.J., Briony and Mari (Briony’s therapist and S.J.’s love interest), and the author uses an effective method of narration, flipping between the first person (S.J.) and third person (Briony and Mari). This simple switch unconsciously got beneath my skin so that it took me a while to realise what it was that I actually found unsettling with the narrative. It’s a terrific technique for setting up a feeling of disquiet and distrust, particularly regarding the characters of S.J. and Briony. On the surface their childhood traumas draws a parallel and yet this subtle difference in their positioning within the narration of the novel creates a quick, yet lasting impact.

Talking of S.J., he is a fantastic character. Scarred in everyway possible, we’re told from the off that he is dealing (or not, as they case actually is) with something in his past, and as time goes on, the full extent of his trauma is revealed, with the aforementioned parallels drawing him to Briony and her to him, leading to plenty of drama as the novel unfolds.

I really enjoyed Volta. A sophisticated and intriguing read, it delivered everything I was looking for; complex characters alongside an involved and mysterious plot, fractured relationships, a heavy psychological influence and a sprinkling of romance which weaves a rocky, but ultimately hopeful path. I found it to be a wonderfully moreish read, one I could easily get lost in. I loved the concept and it was excellently executed by Nikki. If you enjoy intelligent, accessible writing in the psychological thriller genre, then I highly recommend Volta.

About the Author

Nikki Dudley studied for her BA and MA at Roehampton University. Published work includes: the thriller, Ellipsis, (2010); her chapbook, exits/origins (2010) and poetry collection, Hope Alt Delete (2017). One of Nikki’s poems was also featured in The Blackpool Illuminations (2016).

Awards: ​-Novel, Volta, winner of the Virginia Prize for Fiction.

Shortlisted in the London Writers’ Competition in 2003 for poetry.

Won the Promise Prize for poetry in the London Writers’ Competition 2005.

Novel, Ellipsis, shortlisted for the Ideastap Inspires programme in 2014.

Nikki is Managing Editor of streetcake magazine, which she started with Trini Decombe in 2008. streetcake publishes an online issue every 2-3 months and in 2019, launched the streetcake experimental writing prize, supported by the Arts Council England. She also runs Mumwrite.com, a writing community for mothers.

She grew up in inner city London and attended state school in Camden. Nikki has been in love with words since she wrote short stories in her scrapbook at primary school and discovered what a metaphor was.

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