Eva Dolan

WATCH HER DISAPPEAR … Between the covers


Corinne Sawyer leaves her lover fast asleep between the tangled sheets of their bed. She puts on her designer running gear and strides off into the early morning chill, music pounding in her head via her earphones, her feet pumping out a rhythm which triggers the endorphins which will ease her legs and lungs through this challenge. Corinne won’t see forty again, but she is proud of her body, and will not go down without a fight as middle age creeps ever nearer. But the expensive cosmetic surgery which has recently refined her face is shattered – along with life itself – when she is brutally attacked on a lonely path.

When Corinne’s body is discovered, Peterborough CID are called to the scene. The medical examiner gets to his feet rather quickly, and before he can answer the inevitable questions about the time and cause of death, he stuns the waiting detectives with the simplest of statements.They are not investigating the murder of a female jogger. The victim is, in the most obvious of ways, a biological man, and thus the murder becomes a case of extreme transphobia – and a job for the city’s Hate Crimes Unit.

whdNot the least of Eva Dolan’s achievements in this remarkable novel is to pinpoint with painful accuracy and honesty what happens to children and wives when a father – originally Colin Sawyer – decides to abandon the male role and become a woman. Even after the nightmare scene where Sawyer’s daughters come back to the house unexpectedly, and find their father en femme at the sink, doing the dishes, Jessica and Lily have come to think of their dad as ‘mum’. The pain that this must cause a biological mother in this situation can only be imagined, and it is interesting that Nina Sawyer is drawn as a fairly unpleasant piece of work.

Dolan doesn’t preach, but she sets out with stark clarity the yawning chasm between perfectly decent and honest people who have genuine difficulty in understanding the whole transgender issue, and those individuals whose psychology is at potentially destructive odds with their physiology. We peer in at a world where gender pronouns can be wielded with as deadly effect as fists, hammers and knives. Dolan also casts a wary eye over the role of professional anti-phobia activists, and suggests that, while their intentions may be good, their handiwork can have tragic consequences.

evaAside from the nuanced description of gender politics and psychological challenges faced by the characters in this novel, we have to ask the burning question. Does Watch Her Disappear work as a crime story? My answer is a resounding and emphatc ‘Yes”. The whodunnit aspect of the story is teasingly effective, with Dolan (right) scattering little hints, false leads and blind alleys in her wake as she races along ahead of us. Crime fiction is full almost to the brim with Detective Inspectors and their trusty Sergeants, but Dolan breathes on those particular embers and makes them fire up afresh in the shape of Detective Inspector Dushan Zigic and Detective Sergeant Mel Ferreira of the Hate Crimes Unit. The neat twist is, of course, that both Zigic and Ferreira are themselves children of immigrants, and the chemistry between the two is potent and complex.

Incidentally, speaking as a near-local to Peterborough, I can testify that the topographical setting of the novel is impeccable. Dolan captures beautifully the crunching of the gears between the different facets of the city. The old Victorian railway town, with its certainty of values and smoky industrial warmth does not always sit happily with the once-familiar terraced streets where mosques have replaced Methodist chapels, or the quick-build-garden suburbs where every street is either a Meadow, a Leys or an Orchard.

The killer is eventually unmasked by Zogic and Ferreira, but not before Dolan has woven a spectacular spiders’ web – delicate yet strong – of motive, jealousy, human frailty and guilt. Her triumph is the revelation that the broken body found on that Ferry Meadows footpath was not just one person, but both Colin and Corinne. If that is too enigmatic, then you will just have to read the book for yourself – you will not regret doing so. Watch Her Disappear is published by Harvill Secker and is out now.


COMPETITION TIME …Win the new book by Eva Dolan

whdThe first Fully Booked competition for 2017 has a fantastic prize – the eagerly awaited fourth novel from a writer who is regarded as one of crime fiction’s fastest rising stars – Eva Dolan. Watch Her Disappear is not on sale until 26th January, but you could be well ahead of the game if you win this competition.

It’s a little trickier than usual, but great fun. Watch the YouTube video, and listen to the five famous pieces of music. Identify the composer of each, then take the first letter of their surname. That will give you an anagram of the surname of a famous screen detective.

They have nothing to do with the competition, but are just for looking at while you work out who the composers are.

So, for example, if there were six pieces of music, and you identified Liszt, Schubert, Orff, Handel, Mahler and Enescu, that would give you L, S, O, H, M and E making, of course HOLMES!

With your answer as the subject, just email:

Your name will go into the hat, and a winner will be drawn in the usual way. The competition closes at 10.00pm GMT on Sunday 15th January. Due to postage costs, entry is restricted to people who live in Great Britain and the Irish Republic. Click the image to watch the video:



  1. Competition closes 10.00pm London time on Sunday 15th January 2017.
  2. One entry per competitor.
  3. All correct entries will be put in the proverbial hat, and one winner drawn.
  4. The winner will be notified by email, and a postal address requested


THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Watch Her Disappear


IT SEEMS ONLY YESTERDAY that former reviewing colleague Eva Dolan took the crime fiction world by storm with her astonishing debut Long Way Home. This tale of a pair of coppers, DI Zigic and DS Ferreira, tackling hate crime in one of Britain’s most ethnically diverse cities, Peterborough, shone a sharp light on the uncomfortable truth behind the exploitation of migrants by powerful vested interests. Next came Tell No Tales, and then After You Die.

whdWatch Her Disappear, the latest episode in the career of Zigic and Ferreira is expected to be on the shelves in January 2017, and it reminds us that hate crime can involve other issues than the colour of someone’s skin or the language they speak. A wave of sexual assaults has left Peterborough women wary and fretful, but when the next victim – a fatality – is revealed to have been a genetic man, the case becomes something different altogether.

Eva Dolan is also a great fan of playing poker. Recently, she tweeted,
“If I divide my advance by my wordcount tonight I’ve earned more playing poker than writing. Which means poker is now my day job, I think.”

I’m no gambler, but if I were, I think would be putting a decent sum on the fact that Watch Her Disappear will be another success for one of our best young writers. Watch the review section on Fully Booked for an in depth look nearer the publication date.



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