Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

A Fractured Winter – Alison Baillie

Psychological Fiction 4*s

It’s 2015 and winter when the best friend of Olivia’s daughter goes missing. The girls are only young but in keeping with the culture they walk to and from school together. They went to school after having their break for lunch at home but Lara has a confusing message, apparently her best friend Sandra has a new friend and was meeting them instead. Sandra has disappeared into the air.

Olivia was already preoccupied by the thought her past inEdinburgh was coming back to haunt her because someone had left a note, signalling that someone, somewhere, knows she has something to hide.

Back in 1984 Marie is a lonely child with a religious mother and a volatile father. Marie bides her time, pretty much friendless and out of step with her peers, her parents being older and poorer than theirs and as she grows she is determined to escape her home and go to university. But all that changes when she reaches the age of sixteen and finds something out that changes everything.

I really enjoyed this authors debut novel Sewing the Shadows Together, her portrayal of Portobello in Edinburgh was so evocative and the past present angle convincingly portrayed. I’m so pleased to report that the author did equally well in bringing Switzerland to life. The insertion of their customs, such as the primary school children returning for lunch added to the feeling that we ‘knew’ the characters. This is an author that can convincingly switch between time periods as well as places.  Just as well really because in 1998 we meet naïve Lucy Sheridan who is at university who meets a handsome young man…  

As for the mystery in Switzerland, by its very nature that was fast and furious. We end up with two missing girls to track down, precious few clues that the police were willing to take seriously. With her teenage son and her new husband at loggerheads life for Olivia was hardly going along swimmingly and although I suspect that her constant doubting of herself was a useful device for allowing the readers to share her thoughts, personally I found her a little tiresome.  But don’t forget we have a mystery girl in the 1980s to tie into a story where she doesn’t seem to have a spot, or does she? This is a book for those with inquisitive minds who are prepared to wait for the storyline to play out.

I’ve categorised this as a psychological thriller but it reallyis a blend of genres and without the mystery of the missing girls which isn’t quiteas central to the storyline as I expected, it could easily have been on thewoman’s fiction shelf of the more robust variety. That said there were plentyof mysteries past and present to be unravelled and a few characters whose personalitiesdefinitely belong in the psychological section, all of which had me flickingthrough the pages at a rate of knots to find out what was going to happen next.

First Published UK: 9 April  2018
Publisher: Williams & Whiting
No of Pages: 366
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US


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

13 thoughts on “A Fractured Winter – Alison Baillie

  1. The setting for this one sound appealing, Cleo. And, as you know, I do like novels where the past impacts the present like that. It sounds like an interesting character study, too, and I find that especially appealing. Glad you enjoyed this.


  2. Brilliant review, Cleo. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like the sound of this book from judging it on its cover (naughty, I know) but it does sound good!


  3. interesting that the kids disappearances weren’t the main driver of the story, although we’re starting to see more of this in psychological thrillers. It does seem like a cheap ploy to constantly use children as a hook though, don’t you think?


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