Tarnished by Julia Crouch. Read August 2014.

An intense psychological thriller that left me reeling.
“Peg always felt a little blurred, a little lacking in definition. Her mother died when she was six, her father simply disappeared, and she was brought up by her grandparents and her obese, bedridden aunt. But, despite all this, she never developed the habit of asking questions…As the skeletons come tumbling out of the family closet and the full horror of the past begins to reveal itself, Peg starts to wonder whether her youthful lack of curiosity might not have been a good thing. A very good thing indeed…”
Earlier this year I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Long Fall by Julia Crouch. As soon as I finished it I added all of the author’s previous psychological thrillers to my wish list and Tarnished is the first I’ve got hold of.
I became immersed in Peg’s world and her struggle to fill in the gaps in her childhood memories. At the same time some of the descriptions transported me back to memories of my own grandparents (the cocktail cabinet in the lounge, the made-up bedtime stories…) making this quite an emotional read.
The author’s trademark is telling a gripping and suspenseful story in the present interspersed with flashbacks to the characters’ pasts that illuminate and explain the main story. Some of the revelations in Tarnished shocked me, though I had worked out some of what was going on. All in all this was a satisfying read that gripped me throughout and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a book that makes you think, even after you’ve finished it.



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