I have read far fewer psychological thrillers in 2018 than previous years and those that I have chosen have been of a high quality with the successful authors using a premise which is a little out of the ordinary. That is exactly what Jenny Blackhurst has done in The Night She Died as she builds on her outstanding success of her previous books in this genre.
Picture the scene of lovely wedding between a happy couple. Move to the next frame and you see a woman in her wedding dress looking over the bay and then she is gone. Below the clifftop she stood on are rocks so the outcome doesn’t look great. And sure enough after that there is no trace of Evie, no body and no one knows quite why, or do they?
Evie White is the bride who disappears, she leaves no note and so her heartbroken groom is left with nothing except unanswered questions. Evie’s best friend is Rebecca and it is obvious to the reader that she knows something, but what it is she is keeping quiet about.
The book is told in two narratives, the past by Evie going back to her childhood to explain the woman she became, and the present, by Rebecca. Rebecca is propping up the groom who became a widower before he had any chance to enjoy his marriage. Unsurprisingly he isn’t coping too well especially as the police are trying to unravel the mystery of Evie’s apparent suicide which inevitably means that Richard finds out about the aspects of Evie’s life that she had kept hidden from him. It probably won’t surprise you to be told that both women are soon revealed to be what could be considered ‘complex characters.’
For those readers who love a tense and imaginative foray, this will be a book that you’ll enjoy and fortunately the author keeps the magic and the surprises coming from the first to the very last page. If I was going to be picky I’d probably state that I’m not sure that the police would expand quite so much energy on a suicide even if they did suspect foul play at the outset but if a book is well written and engaging then I’m prepared to overlook such quibbles.
Jenny Blackhurst hasn’t just come up with a good premise here she follows it through by writing appealing characters. Admittedly both women are complex but there is something appealing about them both and they are real. Most of us have met both an Evie and a Rebecca in our lives and so the author’s obvious investment in her characters pays off. I cared about them both even while trying to work out what had happened to cause Evie to throw herself off the cliff.
The timing is also impeccable. For me the joy of reading a psychological thriller is that hook that keeps you turning the pages. I tend to read this kind of novel faster than other types of books and the author has the format down to a tee. The short chapters the alternating time periods and narrators works so well to keep me turning the pages to find out the next piece of information and has me constantly changing my mind about what is relevant to the plot and what is not.
I’d like to thank the publishers Headline for allowing me to read an advance review copy of The Night She Died, and to Jenny Blackhurst for providing me with a compulsive read!
Previous Books by Jenny Blackhurst