Written by Sophie Hannah

Review written by Sara Townsend

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group.

Hodder & Stoughton
RRP: £14.99
Released: 14th February 2013

Delayed overnight on a flight from Germany, Gaby Struthers is forced to share a hotel room with a hysterical young woman named Lauren Cookson.  Lauren blurts out that because of her an innocent man is going to jail, and when Gaby finds out that the man is Tim Breary, she begins to think that it’s not a coincidence that Lauren is on her plane.  For Tim Breary is the only man she has ever loved, and the person he is accused of murdering is his wife Francine.  And thus we are introduced to a whole novel full of psychologically damaged characters.


It becomes clear that Francine was perceived as manipulative and controlling of Tim by his friends Kerry and Dan Jose, who seem to feel the need to cling to Tim as an anchor in their lives.  When Francine has a stroke and is left an unresponsive vegetable, Kerry and Dan move Tim and the stricken Francine into their spacious house.  Kerry and Dan take to writing letters to Francine in which they detail all the things they never had the courage to tell her face to face, and hide them under her mattress.  Lauren is hired as a carer to Francine, and she moves into the house too, along with her husband Jason.  Lauren is an unintelligent young woman who seems to have lurched from a thuggish bullying father to a thuggish bullying husband, but her one redeeming feature is that she’s the only character to have any compassion for Francine.


Gaby fits into this mess by being in love with Tim, but since Francine’s stroke, which erased any possibility of Tim leaving Francine for her, she has been living with a man who seems to object to the amount of time she spends on business trips abroad, and whom she seems to feel nothing but irritation for. 


All of these messed-up lives come under scrutiny when Gaby reports her conversation with Lauren about Tim being innocent to the police, and the case is reopened.  There is certainly no shortage of suspects wanting Francine dead, but who did kill her?  In the end, it doesn’t really matter.  None of the characters are particularly likeable and I didn’t really care about any of them.  Anyone interested in psychology might find these characters a fascinating study into just how messed-up human beings can be – and I have no doubt that real people can be just as psychologically damaged as these characters – but as a crime story, it didn’t hold my interest.  

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