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As She Left It

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  719 ratings  ·  119 reviews
A 2014 Anthony Award Winner When she was twelve years old, Opal Jones escaped her mother's endless drinking. Now, returning to their small Leeds cottage after her mum's death, Opal feels like she's gone back in time. Nosey Mrs. Pickess is still polishing her windows to a sparkle. Fishbo, Opal's ancient music teacher, still plays trumpet with his band. And much to Opal's ...more
Paperback, 343 pages
Published June 8th 2013 by Midnight Ink (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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 ·  719 ratings  ·  119 reviews

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Diane S ☔
May 03, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5 Opal left her home and alcoholic mother when she was twelve years old. There was much about that time that she did not remember. After her mother dies, Opal now nineteen returns to Mote street and discovers a mystery, a little boy had disappeared, around the same time she left. In this stand alone novel, there are three different, well maybe four different threads in which Opal finds herself involved. Many of the same people live on Mote street as where there when Opal first left and all the ...more
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What originally brought this book to my attention and put it on my to-read list was that its author, Catriona McPherson, will be at Bouchercon this year, and I'm trying to read different authors that interest me before I attend. Then, the book's description intrigued me, promising to provide a mystery dark and deep. I'm happy to say that promises were kept, and I was well pleased with this novel.

It is a story full of deeply buried secrets, some dating as far back as the 1940's. At the center of
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Really enjoyed the story and characters...until the end which was rushed, unbelievable and inconsistent.
Elizabeth Varadan
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In As She Left It, Opal Jones left her alcoholic mother when she was twelve to live with her father and step-family in Whitby. After her mother’s death, Opal finds the old home - one half of a cottage on Mote Street in Leeds - is now hers, and she moves back.

At first it seems the old neighborhood really is “as she left it” thirteen years ago. The Mote Street Boys in the corner house still play their gigs. Opal used to take trumpet lessons from one of them, Fishbo, who welcomes her back.

I found the description of As She Left It by Catriona McPherson intriguing. I. Had. No. Idea. If a good mystery has twists and turns, unwinding into a final conclusion, As She Left It. is a labyrinth, woven and knotted, folded over and entangled in barbed wire. Arriving to the conclusion is a dark and painful journey, requiring and engaging all of your senses, probably leaving a little of your blood in the barbs. On Mote Street, a heavy sorrow hangs over every house, threatening to choke ...more
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This novel is a stand alone mystery by a recognized serial mystery author. The subject material is adult and gritty. It should be read as such and you will not be disappointed in the least.

A young woman, Opal Jones, finds herself back, thirteen years later, at the childhood home she ran from in Leeds, England, U.K. For the past decade plus, Opal has been sheltering in Whitby, having blanked out her past which we assume was quite traumatic and filled with alcoholism (mother's) and father's early
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
I very much wanted to love this book, especially after having met the author last spring. I have not read her popular Dandy Gilver books so this was my first taste. The story--a twentyish,young woman returns to her dead mother's home after a long time away--grabs the reader from the first page. The mysterious atmosphere is palpable and the characters are equally mysterious. Years before a three-year-old disappears from Mote Street shortly after the main character Opal leaves her mother's home ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued by this story from the very beginning. Opal had such a strange situation from the beginning.
I really enjoyed this book and once I got to the 35-40% mark I couldn't put it down.

Opal's mother has passed away and she is somewhat lured back to her mother's home to take possession of it. Someone, wants her to take possession of her mother's house to keep anyone else from getting their hands on it and possibly discovering the secrets hidden within.

Opal happens to buy a bed that is a
Meg Mims
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense
From the first page of Catriona Macpherson's AS SHE LEFT IT, I was sucked into the intriguing set-up and each chapter drew me further into the tangled web of Opal Jones' life. Macpherson is a masterful storyteller; her characters slowly reveal their secrets, from Margaret to Dennis to Fishbo and Mrs. Pickess, revolving around a vanished child ten years previous. Opal also gets involved in another odd situation, and all the threads are woven into a surprising end. A wonderfully rich novel set in ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Book Review originally published here:

Mysterious atmosphere, suspense palpable from the first page. Opal is an intriguing main character, and I felt for her, and all the hardships she went through. I enjoyed how the mystery slowly unfolded, and we figured out more and more about the characters. Solid mystery read.
Oct 23, 2015 rated it liked it
This took me awhile to get into. Then I had to reread the ending to make sure that I really understood everything that had happened.
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Too coincidental to even touch the tip of a toe into the pool of believability.
Amanda Ferrell
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Lame, but I finished it because I wanted to know the answer. Annoying protagonist, too many coincidences, too many stories in one book.
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a pretty compelling mystery but it also made me think that the book would be alot shorter if the hero just used the internet.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
More like 3.5 stars. I loved the first 2 books of hers that I read but this one was a bit abrupt, and came close to the "unreliable narrator" genre, which I hate. I think the author really polished her craft after this book, since it was the first stand-alone that she wrote.

I did enjoy the setting, and the diverse cast of characters. Norah's house was a very rich environment for my imagination, very like Ms Havasham's house in Dickens. I also enjoyed how the stories began to come together.

Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like it, to love it. The book had so much potential but it just fell flat for me. I loved the idea of what the main character was trying to do but I felt that the majority of the book was a lot of bla bla blaing .

Gave it two stars because it wasn't that bad that I didn't want to finish the book. I think saying the it was "ok" is the best , shortest way to explain the book.
Ian Gelsdorf
May 09, 2018 rated it liked it
As She Left It is a story following the events immediately after our protagonist, Opal Jones, returns to her hometown of Leeds following her mother's death. Upon her return she is quickly drawn into the mystery of a boy who disappeared five years prior, and the book takes us along the events that follow.

There was a very long and drawn out exposition and it felt like McPherson tried to explain too much backstory as the book went on. It was supposed to be a mystery I suppose but most of the book
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
After reading many of the Dandy Giver books this was a little bit of a letdown. The idea of Opal Jones wanting to solve mysteries around her is intriguing as is her efforts. But the ending was way too rushed and confusing. It's as if she suddenly had to end it in ten minutes so she wrote it all down without rereading it. I liked it but it was a letdown.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
i'm giving this four stars cos i was in the zone for so much of the book - but the end seemed rushed and i was all over the place, what? who? eh? - not the only book i've found this with i have to say but a juddering end to what was up til then an enjoyable read.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this book on the recommendation of a friend and because the author lives in Davis. I had a difficult time getting into the book, but half way through it, I became intrigued. The story lines seemed to come together at the end (I think), but I still remain a bit confused!
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good, quick read. I enjoyed how the main character reasoned out why all the neighbors react the way they do. I'm looking forward to other novels by this author.
Margretta Vizina
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Story line good but book is poorly edited
Sandy Reenders
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Not as great as Dandy Gilver, still an engaging read with a fun ending. Not amazing, but a good read
Linda Lanoue
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
I've loved all the Dandy Gilver books I've read, and also enjoyed a couple of her stand alone novels. I just couldn't get into this one, though. Characters didn't seem real.
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clever, original & intriguing.
Kate Baxter
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Labyrinthine with lots of twists.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I found the story hard to follow but it was well written and finally drew me in. This is my second Catriona McPherson book and I will read more.
Book #20 for 2014

This is an intriguing story with an excellent sense of place and some very nice twists as well. This was a book club selection, and Catriona was kind enough to provide some discussion questions for us. I will post the questions here, but some of my answers are spoileriffic, so I may edit those drastically.

1. There's an old Chinese proverb: "No coincidence; no story." But there's also an unwritten rule of mystery writing: "One coincidence, in the first half of the book, and it
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not the best I've read, but a strong effort. I was definitely engaged and interested in reading to the end. However, I wouldn't seek out other books by McPherson.

Chap One 21 July 2010 Tuesday: It's all connected. Everything's joined to everything. You think you can keep things out of your head, if you concentrate hard. You think your brain's in charge. And then blammo! From nowhere, one little thread starts to fray, one little rock gets lifted, and the light shines in. That's when you know it's
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aka Catriona McCloud

Catriona McPherson was born in South Queensferry. After finishing school, she worked in a bank for a short time, before going to university. She studied for an MA in English Language and Linguistics at Edinburgh University, and then gained a job in the local studies department at Edinburgh City Libraries. She left this post after a couple of years, and went back to university
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