I’m a big fan of Tamar (now known as Tammy) Cohen’s writing having really enjoyed the sharp observations in The Mistresses Revenge and I was thrilled when she ventured into the psychological thriller genre with The Broken. In Dying for Christmas we meet Jessica Gold, a young woman with a long-term boyfriend out shopping for Christmas in London. She visits a department store café and meets Dominic Lacey a charming and good-looking man who flatters her and by the time she has finished her drink she agrees to go home with him. Yes not the wisest move! Jessica soon finds out what a big mistake she has made.
And there it was. The thing that had lurked beneath the perfect glass surface of our encounter. The thing I’d been trying not to face. The thing my mother had warned me against.
And it was all my own fault.
Right from the start this book is totally gripping and the tension rises as Dominic presents Jessica with a present each day, but these aren’t your conventional gifts of jewellery, underwear and toiletries. Dominic is a truly scary man and over the course of the book, the stories he tells partly explain why, but they also tell us how his mind works, and what he is capable of.
Although Jessica is harder to categorise from her own narrative although she does divulge her problems connecting with others that seem to stem back to early childhood. Travis her trainee doctor boyfriend gives her a veneer of normalness which she would be lost without but his interest in her has recently waned.
Along with Jessica and Dominic’s story the police investigation is told from the perspective of Kim a tenacious and ambitious officer whose personal life is in a state of flux. Kim’s investigation gives the background to Jessica’s life through her parent’s brother’s and colleague’s and psychotherapist’s statements adding another dimension.
The psychotherapist’s smile remained fixed on her face as if it had been thrown there and stuck, like not quite-cooked spaghetti against the wall.
‘It would be uncharacteristic for her to act in that way,’ she said eventually. ‘But I wouldn’t rule it out. Jessica is a highly unusual person. I wouldn’t want to risk predicting her behaviour.’
As always I enormously enjoyed Tammy Cohen’s writing style, her dry wit appeals to my sense of humour and the momentary lightness these bring gave me some relief from this chilling Christmas tale.
She was well aware how the family would be judged on how much emotion they showed. Too much and it could all be deemed a show. Too little and they were hiding something. When did people start judging real life like the X Factor.
Books that have a wide range of characters are ones that I enjoy the most and this book is made up of a great collection all with varying flaws but not so much so that they become unrealistic and their actions fit the pace of the plot which is a twists and turns enough to make the reader giddy.
This is a great anti-Christmas tale, one to curl up with when the relatives really have over-stayed their welcome and you want to remind yourself that it could be worse! For all of that I finished up knowing that I’d suspended belief and shut down the questioning part of my brain in order to get the maximum enjoyment out of this one and it is an accolade to the author that the more unrealistic section occurred after a brilliant set-up to make this possible.
I’d like to thank the publishers, Random House UK, for allowing me to revel in my favourite kind of villain ahead of publication date of 20 November 2014 in return for my honest opinion.