I Looked Away by Jane Corry

#psychologicalthriller #amreading #twisty

Publisher: Penguin

Published: 27th June 2019

Date of Review: 6th June 2019

Blurb

Every Monday, 49-year-old Ellie looks after her grandson Josh. She loves him more than anyone else in the world. The only thing that can mar her happiness is her husband’s affair. But he swears it’s over now, and Ellie has decided to be thankful for what she’s got.

Then one day, while she’s looking after Josh, her husband gets a call from that woman. And just for a moment, Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson. What happens next will change her life forever.

Because Ellie is hiding something in her past.

And what looks like an accident could start to look like murder…

My Review

I looked away is a compulsive and twisty domestic noir that has been impossible to put down. With a past and present timeline, the dual first-person narrative explores the lives of Ellie – a middle-class grandmother, and Jo – a homeless woman. We see the two characters meet at the beginning of the story but just how they are connected and to what degree this seemingly inconsequential liaison has on the storyline is not revealed until we reach the story’s climax. I did have an idea as to what this might be, and as somebody who devours psychological thrillers like no tomorrow, I was right. But this did not in any way spoil things; in fact it made it all the more satisfying!

Ellie’s timeline is mostly in the past, where we see a very different lifestyle to the middle-class woman she is today. Ellie starts off as a woman who you immediately root for. She has a lot going for her from a materialistic perspective but the one thing she can’t buy is her husband’s fidelity. We don’t see much of Roger in the present, but they have a long history together and there are a few shocks and twists as details of their relationship emerge. You just know he is a complete dick and you will be willing Ellie to pack her bags and find a better life without him. But this is a psychological thriller, so things don’t work out quite so simple as that!

But it was the characterisation of Jo that totally drew me in. Firstly, we see her arrive in Bristol. As a Bristolian, it was like I was wandering the streets with her, and it really makes you think ‘What would I do? Where would I go?’ if placed in Jo’s shoes. The character is so real, when I was in town a week after reading the book, I saw a woman who looked just like the character in my head and I thought ‘Oh look there’s Jo!’

As the two time-lines gradually converge, all the seemingly inconsequential events scattered throughout the narrative are brought to light. At the beginning of this year I decided to only review those books that excite and inspire me as a new writer. Jane Corry does this in abundance. Everything from the way the novel is structured, to the twisty and compelling plotline, to characterisation, to the writer’s colloquial and compelling voice. My list is endless. I absolutely loved this book and can’t recommend it enough.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

https://www.janecorryauthor.com/

https://amzn.to/2KMEYWl Amazon UK

https://amzn.to/2IusjFx Amazon US

The Secret by K L Slater

#psychologicalthriller #bookreview #amwriting

Publisher: Bookouture

Date of Publication: 27th July 2018

Date of Review: 28th Jan 2019

Blurb

You think you can trust the ones you love most.

But what if one secret could make you question everything?

Every day, a woman like Louise passes you in the street: elegant, confident, determined. But underneath, she’s struggling.

She doesn’t know her sister, Alice, has been scared of leaving the house since their mother died.

She doesn’t know when Alice babysits her little boy, Archie, he sometimes sees things he shouldn’t.

She doesn’t know Archie has a secret.

A secret that could send cracks through the heart of Louise’s carefully constructed life…

My Review

The Secret is an addictive ‘Domestic Noir’ style psychological thriller that delves into the toxic relationship between two sisters. Louise is a married career woman with an eight-year-old son, Archie. Alice is out of work and childless; she also suffers with ME and anxiety, and is scared to leave her home.

The story starts with a dual prologue: then and now. This is in first-person and from Archie’s perspective. What happened in the past, was witnessed by Archie, and it is this secret that fuels the narrative and keeps the pages turning.

Most of the story is narrated in first-person from Alice’s perspective, with some narration in third-person from Louise’s perspective. This dual narration adds to the ‘who’s telling the truth?’ element and allows a degree of empathy for Louise; although to be honest, she isn’t nice at all. Alice’s character is in first-person and this works really well, leaving the reader with no uncertain terms as to who the protagonist is. Alice suffers with ME and anxiety; I could feel the exhaustion and pain radiating throughout her body. Readers will be screaming at Alice and telling her to say ‘no’ to the demands of her bossy and overbearing sister. We learn early on that Alice’s health issues are linked to a previous relationship. I won’t say why this is as I don’t want to spoil things, but when she sees a stranger who looks similar to her ex, you start to question Alice’s sanity.

Alice’s nephew, Archie, is a wonderful character and really brings the story to life. Dealt a raw deal in life, with a mother and step-father who both put themselves and their own careers before their child, Archie finds solace in spending time with his Auntie Alice. This isn’t an easy relationship at first. Alice barely has enough energy to look after herself let alone stepping in to care for her sister’s child. But Louise is controlling and uses emotional blackmail, forcing Alice to agree to look after Archie. According to Louise, Archie has ADHD but when Alice starts to get to know him, and gives him the time and attention that is lacking at home, the pair bring out the best in each other, and Alice starts to questions whether this is true. Alice has had a horrendous past, and her health is at a point where it looks it is on a downward spiral with no way out. But whilst helping Archie, Alice unwittingly starts to turn a corner and she starts to integrate with the outside world.

Alice also starts to get to know one of her neighbours, Jenny. Jenny also has her own set of problems. But somebody doesn’t like Alice helping Jenny – or is it Archie they don’t like her helping? And just who is that guy who waves to Alice each morning from the tram, that reminds Alice of her ex?

True to its genre, the story is full of red-herrings. And just when you think you know what ‘The Secret’ is, think again! There’s yet another twist!

I really enjoyed reading this book. The things I will take away from this as a New Writer, are pacing of the narrative and how to drop seemingly inconsequential hints into the plot that only make sense once the twist is revealed.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book.

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