When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

Twenty-one years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were killed in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Their ten year-old daughter – nicknamed the Angel of Death – spent eight years in a children’s secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down her older sister, compelling her to break two decades of silence.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and journalist Brinley Booth, a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is tasked with covering the news story.

For the first time, the three women are forced to confront what really happened that night – with devastating consequences for them all.

This is a slight departure for Fiona Cummins as it doesn’t feature a serial killer but it is just as dark and disturbing. The Carter family seem to have it all. He’s a doctor and they have money and status. But when both parents are murdered, one of their daughters confesses to the horrific act.

The book is told from the perspectives of one of the sisters, now called Catherine, and Brinley, their childhood best friend who they are no longer in contact with. Brinley is now a journalist so she has a unique approach to the case and to the upcoming anniversary. These narratives give us the two perspectives from within the family itself and from an outsider to examine what happened that night, its aftermath, and the ongoing effects of the horrifying event.

Catherine, the older of the two sisters as built a new life for herself and now lives with her husband and daughter. She reveals at the beginning of the book that she has secrets about what really happened and what led up to it. The book starts in the present as Catherine is introduced and as the anniversary of the murder is approaching. It then moves to the past to detail the lives of the sisters and Brinley leading up to the murder. This section features some of the most disturbing scenes. It’s a horrific tale of abuse that cuts close to the bone for anyone who experienced or has seen this type of treatment. The third section of the book then moves to the present again to show what happens when Catherine and Brinley come together and the consequences.

As always, Cummins’ writing is vivid and visceral, giving her readers a tense novel which brings together the thriller and horror genres. All of Cummins’ work is highly recommended.

Pan Macmillan, 15 April 2021

About the author

Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family. 

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