Written by Simon Beckett

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.

Bantam Press
RRP: £12.99
Released: 30th January 2014

This book immediately grabs you by the throat and drags you into the action.  We have Sean, in France driving a car that’s out of petrol, and which has blood all over the passenger seat.  And he’s on the run.  Abandoning the car and jumping into a field to hide from a police car, he ends up with his foot caught in a steel trap

I was gripped from that point on.  Sean finds himself stranded on a farm, rescued by the farmer’s daughter, his damaged foot bandage.  The farm belongs to a man named Arnaud, living here with his two daughters Mathilde and Gretchen, and Mathilde’s baby son Michel.  The more Sean learns about the family, the clearer it becomes they are hiding secrets.  Has he run from trouble to end up in a far worse situation?

A ‘flashback’ section unravels gradually throughout the novel, chronicling the sequence of events in Sean’s life that starts when he meets a girl named Chloe and goes right to the point when he ends up driving across France in a bloodied car.  Somehow this back story works beautifully without disconnecting the reader from the present-day story, with the flashback story becoming a trail of carefully-placed breadcrumbs that we eagerly follow.

Sean comes across as a genuinely nice guy, and though we know nothing about how he came to be driving a car covered in blood when we meet him, the more we get to know him the more convinced we become that he’s not the villain of the piece.

This is a book that I literally could not put down.  I read many books, mostly in short bursts during my daily commute to work, and that’s a pretty unusual occurrence.  I also gave this one five stars – that’s an unusual occurrence, too.  I am a very picky reader.

I highly recommend that you read this book for yourself, and that you do so when you have time to sit down and really immerse yourself in Sean’s story.   He will soon become an old friend, and you’ll want to read to the end just to make sure it will all turn out OK.  If you put the book down and leave Sean in trouble, you’ll be worrying about him until you can come back to him.

If I were to compile a list of ‘must-read’ new releases for 2014, this one would be at the top of the list.

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