Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell

Psychological Thriller
5*s

I have been a fan of Lisa Jewell’s writing for many, many years and through those years her writing has gone from light-hearted rom-coms via a very good historical fiction book through the shades of grey to Then She Was Gone which is very dark indeed.

Laurel Mack’s daughter Ellie was on her way to the library ten years ago when she went missing. The police believed she’d run away, but there were no sightings and Laurel and her husband Paul disintegrated under the weight of not knowing what had happened to their precious youngest daughter,  a girl who was just fifteen and about to sit her GCSE’s. With Ellie predicted high grades and no known problems at home she is remembered forever as a pretty teen by her parents and her older siblings Hanna and Jake, and if truth be told, she was her mother’s favourite.

What had Laurel’s life been like, ten years ago, when she’d had three children and not two? Had she woken up every morning suffused with existential joy? No, she had not. Laurel had always been a glass-half-empty type of person. She could find much to complain about in even the most pleasant of scenarios and could condense the joy of good news into a short-lived moment, quickly curtailed by some new bothersome concern…

 …That was how she’d once viewed her perfect life: as a series of bad smells and unfulfilled duties, petty worries and late bills.
And then one morning, her girl, her golden girl, her lastborn, her baby, her soulmate, her pride and her joy, had left the house and not come back.

So ten years down the line when Laurel meets a friendly single father in the local café she has got used to her own company, unlike Paul who has a new wife Bonny, Laurel has not been interested in meeting someone new. And then Laurel’s introduced to Paul’s daughter Poppy who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ellie.

This is a book where the author gives enough pointers for what you assume is the answer to the main mystery fairly early on in the book and in doing so lets the characters walk off the pages and into your life where you will be hard pushed to forget them easily. But beware, not everything is quite as it seems and this novel turns out to be simultaneously a fantastic tale and yet on the other one that is entirely believable probably because the characters we meet are ones that are so realistic.

The narration is mainly done by Laurel, a woman who you can’t but help to sympathise with for her loss but also we here from Ellie, Lloyd and Noelle a strange but still realistic woman who has links to both families all of which reveal to us aspects of the tale that Laurel is blind to. The change in narrator and time periods are expertly handled and this is a psychological thriller which brilliantly hinges on the characters rather than high-octane action, making for a satisfying read because despite changes genres Lisa Jewell still writes with a sharp eye for details and emotions that we all experience while we are hopefully living slightly less dramatic lives than the characters in this book.

I highly recommend  Then You Were Gone  the perfect book to slip into the suitcase for a holiday read; I will now I sit and wait for Lisa Jewell to write her next book.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of Then She Was Gone before publication today, 27 July 2017.

First Published UK: 27 July 2017
Publisher: Century
No of Pages: 432
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

My favourite Lisa Jewell books:

click on the covers to read my reviews

Before I Met YouThe House We Grew Up InThe Making of UsThe Truth About Melody Browne

Lisa Jewell Novels
• I Found You (2016)
The Girls (2015)
The Third Wife (2014)
The House We Grew Up In (2013)
Before I Met You (2012)
The Making Of Us (2011)
• After The Party (2010)
The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
• 31 Dream Street (2007)
• Vince and Joy (2005)
• A Friend of the Family (2004)
• One Hit Wonder (2001)
• Thirtynothing (2000)
• Ralph’s Party (1999)

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

An Act of Silence – Colette McBeth

Psychological Thriller
4*s

Colette McBeth provides us with a nuanced and multi-layered tale in this story which could be plucked from the tabloids.

Linda Moscow is a former Home Secretary who resigned under a black cloud and of course had her disgrace splashed all over the red-tops. Imagine her horror when her son, Gabriel, a stand-up comedian, turns up in her kitchen informing her he is supposed to be presenting himself to the police in a few hours in connection with the death of a woman. Yes, Linda loves her son, can she trust in her son’s innocence? This strand of the novel is one that begs the reader to ask ‘What would I do?’ After all from what she is told Mariela who Gabriel shared the night with has been found dead on the allotment behind his house, for him it appears she was simply another notch on his crowded bedpost, tales of which have kept his face in the public eye ever since he became a famous comic. And then there is the secret that Linda has been nursing over the years.

I loved the way we learn more about each of the characters through their own narration and through other people’s eyes. When wisely used, this is one of my favourite ways for a story to unfold as I firmly believe it is how we learn about each other in ‘real’ life. The time jumps backwards and forwards as different details are revealed stretching way back into the past.

In the background there is the all too familiar story of sexual abuse by those in authority. Relieved of her ministerial duties Linda has joined with a journalist to investigate such abuse of young girls by those in positions of authority and is busy tracking the women down through social media to expose the truth.

Colette McBeth uses the various characters to examine relationships, most prominently in this case one between mother and son and what should be seemingly rock solid bonds can be stretched to the limits. How past experiences of guilt and betrayal colour apparently unrelated conflicts in the future and how interference from others can cast an insidious shadow on the way we view those that we are closest to.

Because of the nature of Linda’s quest to reveal the truth about historic sexual abuse, this is quite a sad book which made it a harder read than many in the psychological thriller genre however the plentiful twists and turns and action scenes meant that the book falls short of being a depressing tale about abuse. In fact by choosing two diametrically opposite characters, the child victim and the politician the author was able to make much wider statements about neither label coming close to summing up an entire person, each having far more layers and depth to them.

An Act of Silence lives up to its title, sometimes it is the unsaid that can cause far more strife than any words spoken aloud.

I’d like to thank Colette McBeth for giving me a copy of An Act of Silence when we met at a Headline blogger event earlier this year, this review is my unbiased thanks for a stunning, involved and intelligent novel that despite somewhat unlikeable characters really got under my skin.

First Published UK: 29 June 2017
Publisher: Wildfire
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Colette McBeth

Precious Thing
The Life I Left Behind