ARC Review: What Remains of Me by A.L. Gaylin

What Remains of MeWhat Remains of Me by A L Gaylin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“The world’s a stage, Little Miss, but very few of us get to write our own roles.”

I hadn’t read anything by this author before but when I spotted it on NetGalley and read the blurb it sounded just the kind of book I was looking for. A psychological thriller about the darker and seedier side of Hollywood, it’s incredibly well written but I’m afraid to say that for me it fell a little bit flat.

I loved the language of the book, the twists and turns in the story but it felt a little bit too slow and too drawn out. The characterization is excellent and the descriptions make every person and every place feel very real. However for whatever reason I couldn’t quite connect with the story. I did have a lot of distractions going on in my life at the time of reading so that may have been part of the problem but it just didn’t hook me in and at points it felt like a struggle.

Synopsis (GoodReads)

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?


The story focuses on Kelly Lund and covers the 4 months leading up to the killing of celebrated director John McFadden, for which she was jailed for 25 years, and the period 30 years later, five years after her release from prison, when her father in law is murdered in a similar way. It jumps backwards and forwards in time as we discover what really happened in 1980 and the investigation into her father in laws death.

I like this style of writing as it allows for information to be released gradually and a better understanding of the characters to develop over the course of the book. Kelly is a fascinating and complex character who even her husband can’t figure out. She keeps her secrets and her feelings locked away inside and having finished the book I’m still not entirely sure I fully got her. I did feel immensely sorry for her at times and frustrated at others but I never really knew what she could be capable of. This definitely made her interesting to read but on the flip side left me feeling a little distanced from the story. The other characters were similar, very distinct, realistic and fascinating but in a kind of detached way.

The central plot to the story is the murder of Kelly’s father in law, famous actor and producer Sterling Marshall, and who killed him but while there is an element of who dunnit it’s probably more of a character study than an exciting thriller. Personally I was a little bit disappointed in the police investigation as it felt secondary and I think had the potential to add a bit more excitement and pace to the story. Instead it felt quite plodding and ineffectual. I can’t say much more without spoilers.

I think if you like a slow paced psychological thriller with fascinating and complex characters you will like this, and I would recommend it, but for me I needed a little more pace and some kind of connection to at least one character.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

3 thoughts on “ARC Review: What Remains of Me by A.L. Gaylin

  1. […] A slightly slower reading week with only two books finished. The first of those was What Remains of Me by A.L. Gaylin which I received from NetGalley. It’s a psychological thriller set in Hollywood and follows Kelly Lund who, 30 years after she was jailed for killing a famous director as a troubled teen, is now suspected of murdering her father in law in a similar way. It’s a well written and twisty story that jumps back and forwards in time but I found it a bit of a struggle. It just didn’t grip me the way I hoped it would and I thought there could have been a bit more action. You can read my full review here. […]


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