Published in the UK on 13 August 2015, this is a standalone psychological thriller by Sophie Hannah, author of the popular Culver Valley Crime series.
“Justine thought she knew who she was, until an anonymous caller seemed to know better…
After fleeing London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine Merrison plans to spend her days doing as little as possible. But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to seem strangely withdrawn. Checking Ellen’s homework one day, Justine finds herself reading a chillingly articulate story about a series of sinister murders committed at the family’s new house. Can Ellen really have made all this up, as she claims? Why would she invent something so grotesque, set it in her own home and name one of the characters after herself? When Justine discovers that Ellen has probably also invented her best friend at school, who appears not to be known to any of the teachers, Justine’s alarm turns to panic.
Then the anonymous phone calls start: a stranger, making accusations and threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past – yet Justine doesn’t recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves – two big ones and a smaller one for a child – Justine fears for her family’s safety. If the police can’t help, she’ll have to confront the danger herself, but first she must work out who she’s supposed to be…”
I have been a fan of Sophie Hannah’s psychological thrillers since Reading “Little Face” in 2006. This author has a way of creating tension, chills and thrills from everyday domestic situations. The stories are all the more terrifying because of their very ordinariness – if these terrible things can happen to such average characters, perhaps they could happen to me just as easily! But that is just one aspect of this book’s brilliance. I read a lot of crime fiction and it’s rare for me to decide a book isn’t suitable bedtime reading but this was one of those occasions. I can’t put my finger on why; the characters simply haunted me even when I wasn’t reading, so I knew I wouldn’t sleep for hours if this was the last thing I read at night.
Aside from the twisty plot and the cleverly developed characters Sophie Hannah’s books are always beautifully written and this is no exception. This time in particular I’ve marvelled at her ability to make me laugh while I’m simultaneously freaking out at the latest dark depths of her imagination.
A truly original thriller that presents intriguing puzzles and plot twists that kept me guessing and interested throughout. Highly recommended (some strong language that may not be to your taste if easily offended).
Thank you to the publisher for the proof copy to review.