When we first meet Karen she is in her office, carefully designed to both put her client’s at her psychiatric post at their ease and able to focus on the session. Her newest client Jessica has come to her complete with the most basic of referrals, and seems hostile to the help on offer. Karen is unsettled but not overly flustered, after all this is her job, she is good at helping people and her two best friends Bea and Eleanor are her chief recipients, the three having been friends since their earliest days.
And Eleanor needs Karen’s help at the moment, she is mother to an eight year old and new born baby Noah and her previous organised life has started to fray not helped by the fact that her husband has to work late. It isn’t long before serious concerns are raised about Eleanor’s ability to cope. Karen is worried that her patient Jessica knows more about her friends than seems reasonable and she’s torn between keeping patient confidentiality and loyalty to her best friend.
Bea’s problems are not so much in the present, but the past which disturbs her equanimity but at least her and her elder sister Fran have managed to re-establish a sisterly bond which goes some way towards insulating Bea against her single status.
So here we have yet another psychological thriller based around friendship – I can’t believe that at the beginning of this year I pointed out this was an under-represented relationship in these types of novels and since then, I have read so many great novels utilising them. The friendship between the three women is long-standing and therefore the rules have been established over many years leaving the three women to enjoy each other’s company and be mutually supportive. One of the rules has been that Karen is not to psychoanalyse the other two, and especially not their partners but they do turn her for advice, after all, early on she took the role of the sensible one.
Of course apart from the three women and the odd patient, there are of course the other relationships the women have, including Karen’s partner who works away most weekend. All of these relationships are at risk as Karen’s worries over Jessica increase – all of a sudden she wonders how she is going to be able to protect her friends and those they hold dear to them.
As in the author’s debut novel How I Lost You, the tension is present more or less from the first page and when we read excerpts from interviews we are left in no doubt at all that something serious has happened, but to whom and why, well that takes quite a long while to work out. Jenny Blackhurst throws those red-herrings around like a careless fisherman making it fiendishly difficult to work out where the truth lies… With the three women giving different viewpoints during their narrations, it is easy to see where misunderstandings are allowed room to flourish, where secrets need to be kept and where suspicions should be listened too.
This was a fantastic read, the plotting superb, and despite me having an inkling where the fishy smell was strongest, there was plenty to ponder over, actions to be contemplated and of course trying to fix the pieces of the puzzle into a whole picture. If you enjoy a psychological thriller which features realistic characters and a strong storyline, you should definitely consider reading this one.
I received my copy of Before I Let You In from the publishers Headline and this honest opinion is my thank you to them for the opportunity to read such an engaging novel.