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.