In Desire Louise Bagshawe brings us the story of Lisa Costello, a British girl who finds herself on the run the day after her wedding when she wakes next to the bridegroom’s corpse. Knowing that she didn’t kill him, Lisa has to use all her guile to stay ahead of the FBI, the press and the hitman who has been hired to finish off the loose end. One of her pursuers is Sam Murray – ex FBI turned private investigator turned press hack. As he gets closer to his target, he and Lisa begin to realise that danger equals passion.
Leaving aside the rather over-the-top premise, this was a pacy and exciting tale with some strong and memorable characters. Lisa was a sympathetic heroine, although at times I did marvel about how much she knew regarding false passports and hiding herself from the FBI. In fact, the FBI appear to be bumbling fools, which aids the story but doesn’t help lend any realism to Desire.
I both loved and loathed the character of Sam Murray – on the one hand he was passionate and strong and capable, all the facets you want to see in a leading man in this sort of novel. However, there were a number of highly dubious characteristics that he demonstrated, such as a highly controlling nature with Lisa and a propensity for treating women badly. I therefore found it a little difficult to appreciate Lisa’s strong desire for him.
Louise Bagshawe has an entertaining voice, and writes page-turning prose. It took me less than a day to read through this engaging novel – I found that I was gripped trying to work out who was behind the murder and I enjoyed reading about Lisa’s attempts to stay one step in front of those pursuing her.
One factor I particularly loved about the novel was seeing the very different locations in which the story took place – Bagshawe effectively drew a picture of each city that Lisa spent time in: presenting the bustling anonymity of Hong Kong, the laid-back warmth of Rome, the neutral sense of Lichtenstein with equal aplomb. I also appreciated her wonderful descriptions of the Mediterranean food that Lisa and Sam had – although this did make me feel very hungry!
One negative point for me was actually the title – I found it interchangeable with so many other books of this nature. In fact, while writing this review I called the book Passion (which I believe is another of Bagshawe’s novels). With a less than scintillating title and a rather generic cover, I feel this book may suffer from not being picked up by the casual reader.
This is not a novel that will ever be listed for the Booker Prize or garner much critical praise, but it was a fun story told in an enjoyable fashion. This was the first novel by Louise Bagshawe that I picked up, but you can rest assured it won’t be the last. For a summer holiday or for a peaceful evening with a glass of wine, this is the perfect reading material – Desire is light and fast-paced and very readable.