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What Remains of Me by A. L. Gaylin

What Remains of Me

Thriller / Suspense   Books of the Month   Crime / Mystery   Family Drama   
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December 2016 Book of the Month.

A clever, thrilling tale full of impact and drama set in the heart of Hollywood. In 1980 17 year old Kelly is convicted of murder, 30 years later and five years after her release, she finds herself once again in the spotlight. Another murder hits the headlines, everyone has already made their decision, but is Kelly guilty or innocent? My attention was snared from the get go, the tale spins between 1980 and 2010, each time change surprising my thoughts as I was so deeply immersed in the story. A. L. Gaylin plays, toys and teases with your reasoning as a number of possibilities open up before you. Kelly is an enigma, other peoples thoughts, reports and articles kept my judgement of her in limbo. There are surprises aplenty, and even when you're expecting them, they are written in such a way, and at such a moment in the story, that they still have the ability to disconcert. ‘What Remains Of Me’ is a riveting corkscrewing rollercoaster of a read, I recommend letting go of reality, throwing your arms up in the air, and just enjoying the ride. ~ Liz Robinson

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. Read the full reviews here.

  • Phylippa Smithson - 'a credible plot that leaves you guessing at every turn of the page as to ‘who dunnit,’...this compelling crime thriller comes very highly recommended.'
  • Celia Cohen - 'A good psychological thriller which will keep you guessing all the way.'
  • Rachel Aygin - 'This book is a total mystery and reading it is like peeling an onion – as each layer is removed more secrets are revealed, leaving the reader feeling even more puzzled...Very intriguing – keeps you guessing until the end.'
  • Emily Curnow - 'It culminates in an unexpected conclusion which can not fail to shock. The reader is kept on their toes until the very end. A compulsive novel full of twists.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This is the story about a woman called Kelly who is at the centre of two crimes , one in the past and one in present day.'
  • Jane Brown - 'This is a great thriller, well recommended...Well written - an author to look out for.'   
  • Judith Smith - 'A gripping tale with believable and sympathetic characters.'
  • Sarah Tilley - 'A cracker of a thriller, once you start reading you won't want to put it down.'
  • Doreen McKeown - 'This is an American crime novel, rather outside my comfort zone...I think people who like this genre will enjoy this book, but I found it hard going.'
  • Janet Gilliard - 'I really enjoyed this book. It's a crime novel with a twist and intelligently written.'
  • Angie Rhodes - 'This is such a good read: murder, secrets, confessions, friendship, and the 80s!! what's not to love??'
  • Kate - 'I really liked it and will be keen to read more of Gaylins books as I’ve never come across them before.'
  • Emily Wright - 'In Gaylin’s hands what could have been a disjointed novel is tautly plotted and compelling, with intricate twists and turns throughout.'
  • Carol Attridge - 'It's not until the last quarter of the book it all starts falling into place and all the suspicions you had or didn't have fall into place and you get that ahhh moment.'
  • Kathryn Whitfield - 'It was a great suspense novel and I will be looking out for more from this author.'
  • Ed Robson - 'What Remains of Me is a disappointing thriller that offers little in the way of tension, characterisation or plot twists.'
  • Jayne Burton - 'I thoroughly enjoyed this book by an author I haven’t read before.   Well worth a read – a thriller at it’s best.'
  • Beth Winsor - 'Lots of twists and turns!  The book as a whole was entertaining and gripped throughout.'
  • Sharon Wood - 'I did quite enjoy the double twist at the end so the book ended with a bit of a wry smile.'
  • Emily Wright - 'Just when I thought all the secrets and lies had been peeled back to reveal the novel’s dark heart, the final chapters continued to surprise me with yet more chilling revelations…'  
  • Dawn - 'Thoroughly enjoyed this thriller, jumping back and forth in time with many twists and turns along the way.'

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What Remains of Me by A. L. Gaylin

People don't need to know you're a murderer. They just have to think you could be...June 1980: 17-year-old Kelly Lund is jailed for killing Hollywood film director, John McFadden Thirty years later, Kelly is a free woman. Yet speculation still swirls over what really happened that night. And when her father-in law, and close friend of McFadden is found dead - shot through the head at point-blank range - there can only be one suspect. But this time Kelly has some high-profile friends who believe she's innocent of both crimes. But is she?


'You'll stay up late to read this' Laura Lippmann

'Full of crackling energy and heartache.' Megan Abbott

'An exceptional book by and exceptional writer. Gaylin is an expert at acute emotional observation combined with seamless plotting. I adored this book.' -- Alex Marwood

'Prepare to be blown away by this powerfully suspenseful and richly atmospheric novel' -- Jennifer McMahon, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Sister

'What Remains of Me is a riveting, emotionally complex thriller, filled with characters who jump from the page and grab your heart until you reach the final, stunning twist. This is Alison Gaylin in top form' -- Alafair Burke

About the Author

A. L. Gaylin

Alison Gaylin's first job was as a reporter for a celebrity tabloid, which sparked a lifelong interest in writing about people committing despicable acts. More than a decade later, she wrote and published her Edgar-nominated first novel, Hide Your Eyes. She's since published eight more books, including the USA Today and international bestselling Brenna Spector suspense series, which has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony and Thriller awards and won the Shamus award. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, daughter, cat and dog.

Below is a Q&A with this author.

1. Where did you grow up, and what was it like?
I grew up in Southern California, in an L.A. suburb called Arcadia. Aside from the Santa Anita racetrack and the palm trees lining the streets, Arcadia was like any suburb anywhere – nothing particularly “Hollywood” about it. I went to a small private school called Polytechnic in nearby Pasadena, which is famous for the Rose Bowl. My dad was a hospital administrator, my mom a medical writer. But she had a strong interest in pop culture, which she imparted on me. We loved driving into Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City… those places were about an hour away, but in many ways it was like travelling to another planet.

2. What was your childhood ambition? My ambition was to be a writer one day. My fantasy, on the other hand, was to win the Academy Award.

3. What is your earliest reading memory? I learned to read young – when I was around three years old. I can remember my parents teaching me to read with Dr. Seuss’s alphabet. The first phrase I remember reading is “Aunt Annie’s Alligator.”

4. When did you know you wanted to write?
I wanted to write from a very young age. I am an only child, and when I was upset, happy, anything, I’d get my feelings out in a journal. I loved writing short stories, some of which were dark enough to disturb my teachers a little. I wanted to write right up until high school, when I had a teacher who gave me a “B,” explaining that she only gave As to students who would one day be professional writers. I was young and insecure, and so that was enough to crush my dream. I decided I would act instead and was a theatre major in college, but by the time I graduated, I was in the playwriting program, high school teacher be damned.

5. What are your inspirations?
For structure, I’m in awe of certain TV shows, like Breaking Bad, which plant plot seeds early on and have them pay off in much later seasons. Of course, I’m also inspired by great books, movies and songs that tug at the emotions. For ideas, whenever I read a news story and think, “what if that was me?” I am inspired.

6. How do you prefer to write – by hand, typing?
Typing! I type faster than I write by hand, and I honestly have the worst handwriting ever. I’m embarrassed by it.

7. Do you have any writing rituals?
No, but I kind of wish I did. I usually write in my home office, in silence, but sometimes I like to go out to a coffee place and write there. I tend to write my most imaginative stuff late at night, and do my best editing/revising in the morning. But I don’t burn incense or listen to music or anything like that.

8. What’s the most useful piece of advice about writing you’ve been given?
Write a little every day. Someone once told me that if you write three pages a day, you’ll be done with a book in three months, which is true and makes the whole process feel a lot less daunting. Also, believe in yourself but know that there’s always room for improvement. Writing is great, but rewriting and revising are essential.

9. Who is your favourite fictional character (one you didn’t write) and why?
Mildred Pierce. She’s flawed and strong and tough and vulnerable and fascinating. And she tries very hard to be a good mother.

10. Which fictional location would you most like to visit?
It isn’t fictional, but I’d love to spend time in the San Francisco described by Armistead Maupin in Tales of the City.

11. Not many people know this, but I’m very good at…
Pinball. There aren’t all that many pinball machines around, I know. But trust me on this. I’m good.

12. What is your guilty pleasure?
I really love the Real Housewives shows -- especially New York and Beverly Hills. But to tell the truth, I don’t feel particularly guilty about that! My dream is to someday drink dirty martinis with Dorinda Medley.

13. What do you always carry with you?
My dad’s watch. He passed away in 2002. I used to wear it all the time until it stopped working and now I carry it in my purse. I miss him every day, but somehow it helps to have the watch with me.

14. And finally, what’s the question (and answer to the question) no one has ever asked you but you wish they would?
Drawing a blank on this one! How about: Who are you wearing? (I like questions where the answer comes with an obligatory twirl.)

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Book Info

Publication date

1st December 2016


A. L. Gaylin

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Arrow (Young) an imprint of Cornerstone


400 pages


Thriller / Suspense
Books of the Month
Crime / Mystery
Family Drama

Crime & mystery
Thriller / suspense



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