Laura Wilson 2017 Quercus Books (Release date – October 5th 2017)
The tagline …’She wants what you have,’ reeled me in and I am pleased to say this book lived up to all my expectations.
From the cover –
Sophie has an enviable life – beautiful house, successful husband, three healthy and talented children and the inevitable black Labrador to complete the perfect tableau. But all that is about to change.
A message arrives at Sophie’s house, scrawled across her own round robin Christmas newsletter: HE’S GOING TO LEAVE YOU. LET’S SEE HOW SMUG YOU ARE THEN, YOU STUPID BITCH. Perhaps she should ignore it, but she ignored the last one. And the one before that.
When her plan to identify and confront the other woman goes violently wrong, Sophie must go to extreme lengths to keep her life and family together, all the while guarding her devastating secret.
I knew I liked the premise of this book the first time I saw it, but starting reading I immediately found myself irritated by the main character Sophie and felt concerned that this was going to be the flavour of the book. I need not have worried, this was the author’s clever portrayal of Sophie writing her incredibly smug, but positively biased round robin Christmas newsletter which appeared to have triggered the vitriolic response detailed above.
What followed was terrific, Sophie entrenched in paranoia and determined to hold on to her man sees suspicion in everything Leo does and sets out on a mission to identify the mysterious woman and see her off… The results are catastrophic and make for a truly fantastic read.
My experience of these types of books are that they can go either way, some, where the plot seems to be driven by the main (usually female) character making ridiculous decisions which simply irritate me. And then books like this one, subtly different, Sophie finds herself in an untenable situation which she has to resolve. Her motivation, drawn from a chaotic childhood is clear and as the book progressed I found myself liking and sympathising with Sophie. On the surface she appeared to have it all, but she was still faced with the daily grind, disorganised and rude teenagers, distracted husband and she felt her family, her husband and lifestyle was hers for keeping and she had invested all in the stability this allowed her. Her main weakness and one which is shared by many, was to portray to the world her perfect and enviable life.
This book had a strong and consistent plot, everything in it worked for me, the story was told, built on the foundations laid and it made sense. I particularly liked Sophie’s willingness to acknowledge that in protecting her marriage she was very consciously protecting her lifestyle, the house and the wealth because these, as well as her husband mattered to her. The author threw in a couple of curveballs which I didn’t especially see coming until they were well on their way and this plus a major household disaster which could only have been caused by a teenager, contributed to this book being a highly entertaining piece of crime fiction, perfectly categorized as domestic noir by Jo Spain in the quote below.
‘I had a knot in my stomach from the suspense. It’s a stand-out domestic noir, slickly written and perfectly paced.’ Jo Spain
A superb ending makes this a book I am highly recommending.
Special thanks to Quercus Books and Bookbridgr for the early copy of this book for review.