The Other You

Written by J S Monroe

Review written by Carole Tyrell

Carole Tyrrell worked in the theatre for nearly 10 years and was always fascinating by the way death and the supernatural formed many of the greatest and most enduring works. She has read crime fiction for many years and enjoys the broad range of the genre.

The Other You
Head of Zeus
RRP: £18.99
Released: January 9 2020

After her recent car accident, Kate thought that her strange talent might have vanished.  Her new partner, Rob helps her to recover and pick up the pieces of her life again. She ponders if she should return to it.  They’ve been together for 5 months and live an (apparently) idyllic existence in Rob’s Fort Knox of a home, in Cornwall.  He is a technology entrepreneur with a parallel life in London, whereas Kate is attempting to rediscover her talents as a painter.

But something is about to invade their seemingly happy life together. Following a swim, Rob confides his terror at meeting his doppelganger again.  He’d met him on a beach in Thailand and Rob firmly believes that if they meet again, his double will steal his life and eventually his soul. 

Prior to the accident, she worked with the police using her talent as a civilian ‘super-recogniser’. She was among the 1% of the population who can’t forget a face. In her brief time in the force’s special unit she was able to identify criminals and put them behind bars.  But she was near exhaustion, so perhaps her accident was a warning?

But after Rob’s confession, Kate begins to feel troubled. She knows little of his life in London or in Brittany. Kate slowly begins to suspect that he’s changed; that he’s not the same person and in fact he’s been replaced by an identical stranger.  Suddenly he can speak French fluently, he drinks flat white coffee instead of a cappuccino and sleeps on the right side of the bed instead of the left.  She is confused and enlists the support of a friend, Bex, to keep an eye on him. Kate becomes increasingly worried that she’s experiencing Capgras Syndrome in which the sufferer believes that their partner (or loved one) has been replaced by an impostor.

Meanwhile, Jake, Kate’s ex-partner is sent anonymously a USB of CCTV from the pub in which Kate stopped for a drink prior to her accident - seeing the barman slip something into Kate’s drink. Was Kate’s crash an accident or something more sinister?

Someone’s after Kate and Jake?

Kate has her coffee spiked in a beachfront café and nearly drowns during a swim and Jake’s houseboat is burnt down in an arson attack.  When Jake makes contact with one of Rob’s Facebook friends, ostensibly  to talk about Rob’s encounter with his double, Jake later discovers that the man died five years ago.

So, who was he talking to online?

DI Silas Hart worked with Kate in the face-recognition unit. It was shut down by his boss, DS Ward after Kate’s accident.  It’s to be replaced by Centaur which is new face-recognition software.  He’s also discovered that other super-recognisers from European crime units have begun disappearing.    

Is Kate next?

Kate ponders upon Rob’s true life in London and Brittany and his true ambitions for her

This is a novel whose central theme is identity.  Are we unique individuals, one of a kind, or are there others out there who are identical?  The evil twin is a horror book trope and yet people do meet their identical selves purely by accident.   Kate’s strange talent means that to her - people are not just faces in a crowd - but individuals that she recalls.  The author handles the themes and plot expertly keeping reader guessing as to Rob’s motivations and his terror of meeting his double again.

Rob is a man of habit and symmetry. The house is Brittany is a replica of the one that he owns in Cornwall - or is it the other way around?  The contrast between the apparently sleepy Cornish village and its underbelly of county lines drug dealers is dealt with adroitly.

Kate is a compelling character in her struggles (and paranoia) to deal with the aftermath of her car crash and her suspicions about Rob and the sense that someone’s out to get her.  She begins to doubt those closest to her, perhaps being betrayed by the men in her life; Jake and his possible fling with another woman, and Rob using his tech-knowledge to control her. 

It is an intricate, gripping, multi-stranded plot. Monroe’s skill in keeping all of the elements together is masterful. He kept me guessing up to the end!

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