Published by Headline
ebook: 28 August 2016 | Paperback : 3 November 2016
Karen is meant to be the one who fixes problems.
It’s her job, as a psychiatrist – and it’s always been her role as a friend.
But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.
But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should know.
And Karen is starting to wonder if she should have let her in . . .
Its a pleasure to take part in the blog tour for Jenny Blackhurst’s second novel, Before I Let You In. I have my review at the end of this post but first I have a great character profile for Bea, provided by Jenny.
Hi Karen, thanks so much for having me on your blog today. I’m here to chat about one of my main characters, Bea Barker and hopefully give your readers a bit of insight into how authors feel about their creations. I hope you all enjoy it.
Bea is the kind of best friend we all want. She’s funny and quick witted, always ready with a quip or a cuss word to fit any situation, and is someone you can rely on to meet you for a drink at short notice. She has a good job that she worked really hard for (although an awful boss) and no children or boyfriend to vampire away her time. From the outside world you’d say she’s perfectly happy with her life, a Peter Pan character who believes growing up is for losers and I had great fun writing her.
I really feel for Bea. She’s the type of person who you really want to be happy. She always believes the best of people until she’s proven wrong, she’s pleased for people when they do well, even though she feels envious of them she’s genuinely proud of everything her friends have achieved. She isn’t quick to judge (apart from the many blind dates Karen tries to set her up with – she judges them pretty harshly). In fact, if it weren’t for one specific incident in her past she would have the potential to be truly content with herself. She doesn’t covet what her friends have, contrary to their beliefs she doesn’t want to be married or have children. All she wants is to like herself – something that has been made impossible by her past.
The fact is, Bea can’t let anyone close to her, and if you’ve read the book you know why. Something she believes she was ultimately responsible for has coloured her view of herself and she is terrified of what it might say about her and the person she wants to be. Bea puts on a ‘devil may care’ front, acts as though her past is forgotten and that she is a carefree party girl who plays the field and loves every second of it but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I loved Bea’s relationship with her big sister – they haven’t always got on but now they are older Fran is becoming someone she can depend on and turn to. I could have written about their relationship all day, the gentle ribbing and familiarity that comes from their shared family history reminded me of myself and my brother who lives in New Zealand and who I miss desperately. Fran wasn’t a big part of the first draft but I felt that Bea needed someone outside of the trio she could trust and depend on – after what I put her though I owed her that!
Some facts about Bea:
- For most of the writing of the book Bea’s name was actually Clare – and if I’m honest that’s how I still think of her. She became Bea due to editorial limitations but whenever someone talks about her I have to refrain from using her original name!
- Her favourite TV programme at the moment is The Great British Bake off, although she loved Dr Foster and Game of Thrones. She’s an avid reader and follows several book bloggers which is where she got the recommendation for Disclaimer – the book she thought she was opening when Louise O’ Neills Asking For It showed up instead.
- Bea eats like a student, one of the best things about living on your own is not having to consider anyone else at mealtimes! Her best creations are cheesy supernoodles (regular supernoodles with a liberal smattering of melted cheese), cheesy beans on toast with Worcester sauce and chopped hotdog and cheese pasta. If you hadn’t guessed Bea could put cheese on just about anything (except maybe curry!) She is naturally a curvy girl and loves a Mars Bar (they do say a bit of the author gets into every character…)
Having enjoyed ‘How I Lost You’, the debut thriller by Jenny Blackhurst – (reviewed here), I was very much looking forward to this as soon as I saw it announced.
Karen Browning, Eleanor Whitney and Bea Parker have been friends for over thirty years. They went to university together, they know everything about each other’s lives, or at least they think they do.
Karen is a psychiatrist and it’s clear from the start that she sees herself as a ‘fixer’. She wants to be the one that the others go to when they have a problem. Eleanor is a young wife and mother – struggling to cope and feeling that must be something more to life than this. Bea is the singleton and happily so – or so she lets people think. And Karen? – well let’s just say that Karen has an interesting backstory and secrets of her own.
Things become really interesting when Karen begins to see a new patient, Jessica Hamilton. Jessica got my back up straight away. She has a hostile attitude and seems to be goading Karen. She also appears to know a lot of personal stuff about Karen that a stranger wouldn’t know and from the things she says, it seems that she is a threat to Karen and her friends. I was desperate to find out how she fitted in to the story.
The story begins with the ‘Now’ and with what appears to be an interview/assessment and these continue throughout the story. From the beginning it was clear who was being assessed but what we don’t know is why; something bad has happened and the tension and anticipation just keeps building.
Before I Let You In is an engrossing and twisty story and introduces some seriously disturbed characters. Many of the chapters are fairly short – which makes for an addictive ‘just one more chapter…’ read. The narrations are voiced in third party by each of the three friends (with the exception of a few chapters in a first person voice), giving an excellent insight into their lives and minds. I love being able to get behind a character and I had no problems here in caring what happened to them – or some of them at least! The fact that none of their lives were perfect made them believable and even the best of friends have secrets from each other. One character in particular had a darker and seemingly reckless side to them that initially I found particularly surprising and it did make me suspicious that perhaps they are not all they seem. I was convinced that I had worked out who was doing ‘what’ and I thought I was sure of the ‘why’ but then wham! I was completely thrown whilst hurtling towards the devastating finale.
With its dark and original storyline exploring the complex intricacies of female friendship, this is a perfectly plotted and well-paced psychological thriller. Jenny Blackhurst has certainly raised her game with this second novel and it was an excellent 5* read for me. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
My thanks to Jenny Blackhurst for sending a paperback ARC for review.
At the time of posting, Before I Let You In can be downloaded from Amazon UK for just 99p
About the author:
Jenny Blackhurst grew up in Shropshire where she still lives with her husband and children. Growing up she spent hours reading and talking about crime novels – writing her own seemed like natural progression.