Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

How I Lost You – Jenny Blackhurst

Psychological Thriller 4*'s
Psychological Thriller

I love a good psychological thrillers and the ones I enjoy the most have characters in a situation which if I’ve not been in, I can easily imagine – How I Lost You is not one of those. The main protagonist is Susan Webster who has spent time in a psychiatric hospital accused of the murder of her son whilst in the grip of post puerperal psychosis. Now by sheer coincidence this is the second book I’ve read this month featuring this condition but I’m glad to say that didn’t really help me to put myself in Susan’s shoes.

Susan leaves hospital knowing no-one except her former roommate, the feisty Cassie, and moves to a small town as Emma Cartwright. She sets up home still not able to remember what happened on the night Dylan, her son died, and volunteers at a local shelter alongside Cassie. Unable to disclose her secret she struggles to really connect with anyone she meets. One morning she receives a photo of a young boy that had writing on the back suggesting that Dylan may still be alive and she struggles between fearing she’s losing her mind or that Dylan is really alive. Secondly she has to worry about who knows who she really is? The only people who know the truth is her probation officer and Cassie.

This is a psychological thriller that in order to enjoy it, you have to go with the flow, and after being slightly irritated at the start with the stilted monologues (never a good idea) where she does the endless struggling as mentioned above, as further clues begin to appear I was able to put these aside and enjoy the book for what it was. Whether that was because the experience Susan is so far outside what I know that I was able to accept her decisions without scoffing at the somewhat obvious stupidity at times, or because of the pace of the book, I’m not sure. What I do know was that I had to know what happened, especially as the excerpts written about a group of schoolboys in the early 1990s which didn’t appear to be connected to the story in any way whatsoever but slowly the strands come together.

Once the background has been laid the pace of the book really picks up and following the entrance of the journalist Nick who seems eager to help Susan to find out what really happened to Dylan, and unusually not for the purposes of a great story on a child-killer, there is plenty of action as they visit those characters who attended her trial. What they find is a mystery more complex than they or certainly I, ever imagined.

There is a mixture of characters from the crazy to the downright bad and few who are genuinely nice people but it is precisely this unconventional spread that is necessary for the tale being told and the maintenance of the tension because you simply don’t know what dramatic event will be around the corner.

A must-read for lovers of psychological thrillers who are in the mood to enjoy a well-told tale and take it at face value.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book from the publishers Headline who gave me a copy of this book for review purposes. How I Lost You will be published on 23 April 2015.



A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

16 thoughts on “How I Lost You – Jenny Blackhurst

  1. I’m very glad you enjoyed this, Cleo. Like you, I’m not a fan of the ‘monologue’ strategy. Still, the plot seems really absorbing, and I like the use of the ‘Am I crazy?’ sort of plot point.


  2. First, I had to look up that psychosis to make sure I knew what it was. And, yes, I did – what we call postpartum psychosis. Very sad. I’m interested in how the puzzle of the story fits together. For me, that is usually the most satisfying part of the psychological thriller.


  3. Another great review, Cleo. I suffered from PND (now I think they call it post partum depression, but I could be wrong!) after my daughter’s birth – and probably, after my son’s, earlier, although it was undiagnosed. It was so awful I decided that was it for me, family-wise – but two is plenty anyway! But CLEARLY I was nowhere near as bad as Jenny. This is at the top of my TBR, or thereabouts (it’s the reviews holding me up – I’m going to have to do more concise reviews!) I’m looking forward to this read, and I think it’s an important issue to talk about, so women don’t feel reluctant to bring it up. It’s a long time ago now, for me, but it was truly dreadful. And it happens at the worst possible time. Anyway, shall let you know how I do with this!


    1. Oh poor you suffering with PND and I know more about PPP than I probably need to as my daughter did her thesis on infanticide… now I’m drawn to stories both factual and fictional that deal with this issue.
      I got quite behind with my reviews but I’m up to date again – I think you have to go with what you feel comfortable with, as I’m a bit fussy I try to have all mine around the same word count which means I’m fairly concise (although always willing to answer further questions if I’ve missed something) I’m eager to know what you think!!


  4. Hi Cleo. Please help me. I am now following your blog. It came up manage do I have to click on that? or will I just get your reviews when you do them? Sorry I have not followed your blogs before as I don’t know what to do.


  5. Did anyone else notice a continuity error in the school boy with a nickname? Didn’t that refer to one member of the group then randomly switch to another? I assumed that several people weren’t who they said they were but this is never explained and just seems to have been brushed over


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