So this week I have decided to employ a tactic to help me read smarter rather than harder as I seem to have hit a wall of books-not unpleasant, definitely my preferred way to sustain an injury! On the suggestion of an equally book bound friend, she recommended filling a mason jar(see below also quick plug for my Insta feed!) with slips of paper containing all the books I have yet to read.
And to the left is said jar, not allowed to pass on or replace a title when it has been selected. I was genuinely excited to submit to this random no questions asked selection technique and as a result have read 2 books this week.
The first is ‘Everything is Lies‘ by Helen Callaghan(author of the bestselling ‘Dear Amy’) and ‘The Night She Died‘ by Jenny Blackhurst (bestselling author of ‘How I lost You’).
‘Everything is Lies’ is about a 26 year old architect, Sophie, who juggles a high pressure job with her relationship with her parents-off grid hippies who never married and live a bohemian lifestyle.
After a disastrous near hook-up with a married work colleague, she is absolutely not in the mood to talk to her mother-we have all had moments like this when we rush to get that person off the phone and instantly regret it. This bit is beautifully conveyed. The next morning, unable to get hold of ether parent on the phone, she goes to their house to find a shocking sight. Her mother is hanging from a tree in the garden with her father, apparently dead, covered in blood at her feet.
Completely distraught, she calls the police and her friend Rowan with whom her mother runs a garden centre café. She finds that for the past 6 months her parents have been subject to break ins and harassment. Shocked and horrified as well as dealing with her father, who appears to be in a coma, she starts looking through her parents belongings. And comes across a letter from a publisher regarding a book that her mother had received a publishing deal for. Was it a straight forward suicide/ attempt or was someone after the manuscript? And if so, are they now after her ? Sophie’s world is suddenly turned upside down and she finds everything she thought she knew needs to be rewritten….
This is a wonderfully atmospheric book, you can feel the distress and upset as we, the reader, discovers along with her, that people will lie about anything and everything to keep themselves and their narratives safe. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would not hesitate to recommend it as a really good psychological thriller, lines such as this really stand out- ‘I was a waxwork Sophie, poised with my glass’. In one short sentence ,Helen Callaghan has totally captured how Sophie feels at a funeral and you can relate to this quite easily.
‘The Night She Died’ is also a psychological thriller dealing with a mystery-why, on what is probably the happiest days of anyone’s life, did Evie Rousseau jump off a cliff in her wedding dress? Who was the mysterious person she was seen arguing with just before jumping? The police automatically focus on her husband of less than a day, Richard, but is this a misdirection to who the real murderer is?
The narrative is split between Evie’s past life from a young girl onwards and Rebecca, Evie’s best friend who is supporting Richard through this time. If she is using it as a distraction to not deal with her grief it is not a great decision as she gives an alibi to Evie’s husband. Who is befriending her via Facebook and calling themselves Evie, is it a troll? Lots of unsettling things start to happen and shake Rebecca’s perception of events.
This is a thoroughly engaging book that demands your full attention as the truth is slowly revealed. It seems at the start that Rebecca is the archetypal ‘good girl’, the steadfast friend you always wanted but as the book goes on she is not as squeaky clean as she would like to believe whereas Evie becomes more real . She has very good reason for her bohemian lifestyle, a complete two fingers to the privileged lifestyle she had been bought up in.
But her secrets are not hidden for long and something cataclysmic leads to that dive from the edge of a cliff. It literally and metaphorically launches the story into free fall where all involved-Richard, Evie, Rebecca-all scramble not to be drowned or dashed on the rocks . To all intents and purposes they were all taken off the cliff with her as are we, the readers.