Well once again G.J. Minett has demonstrated that he knows not only the ingredients required for great story-telling but also when to whisk the mixture slowly and when to turn the speed up, the result a story that may make you wonder if you should have caught on a little earlier but ultimately leave you feeling satiated.
So what’s it all about? Well Billy Orr is back home visiting his older sister, Mia who is ill. He stays on the train at Ashford International – as Billy says the name brings out the cynic in him.
‘It came across as just that little bit too desperate to impress, as if seeing to confer upon the place a status, a sense of glamour and mystery which was never entirely warranted by the town itself. Even the positioning of the word felt lie an afterthought, almost a pose if you like.’
Right from this point, in other words very early on, I liked Billy, saying to myself, he thinks the way I think.
Billy is home in Rye to keep Mia company while her husband Matthew travels for work and although they’ve both assured him that Mia will be ok, the bond between brother and sister is especially close given that Mia, nine years his senior, looked after Billy following the sudden deaths of their parents when he was still in his teens.
The story elegantly shifts backwards and forwards in time, from the present day to an event in 2002, thirteen years before the heart of the story. In the present Mia and Billy go to the supermarket in Tenterden and he’s browsing the cereal aisle when who should he see but his first love Aimi. Now it is clear almost immediately that Mia was not impressed by this chance meeting but she’s content to let them have a five-minute chat, her about her marriage to the son of the local ‘Mr Big’ but she knows that her leaving Billy as a teenager had broken his heart and their closeness has translated into a slightly overbearing attitude as to Billy’s well-being. Aimi wants to talk to Billy but wants him to keep it a secret and sadly the poor bloke doesn’t realise that he should walk away without a backwards glance.
I’m not actually going to say anything else about the plot except to say that the seemingly disparate pieces of information are anything but. I think the author must have had a massive wall of sticky notes to keep track of all the information! Not that this book is complex to read, far from it, but neither is it packed full of irrelevant details, the extra words only ever coming in to paint an evocative scene, a sense of place or time.
Then the clouds came scudding across like locust swarms, treacle black, thick as molasses chasing the light from the sky and squatting over the West End like some malevolent entity. Nature’s literal five o’clock shadow.
The people are well-drawn the ‘at home’ scenes between Mia, Matthew and Billy only too believable, far more so I think than those books where families sit around having witty chats with one another – here there are several points where it is all too obvious that manners keep the family together but their true selves are at times somewhere entirely elsewhere. There are people to hate, people to wonder at, people who remind you of yourself or others and at some point you are going to realise some of these people are hiding something, what is the question?
I am very grateful to the publishers who provided me with a copy of Anything For Her, and of course to be invited to be part of this blog tour. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and to Graham for providing me with another brilliant read. If you haven’t read this author’s previous work, I would urge you to do so each one so different yet at the same time the complex plots are effortlessly read leaving a sense of deep satisfaction.
First Published UK: 30 November 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon US – currently unavailable
Books by G.J. Minett
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