Published by Sphere
Kindle – 6 November 2014
Paperback – 7 May 2015
A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?
In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world is shattered. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape her past, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of the cruel November night that changed her life for ever.
DI Ray Stevens is tasked with seeking justice for a mother who is living every parent’s worst nightmare. Determined to get to the bottom of the case, it begins to consume him as he puts both his professional and personal life on the line.
As Ray and his team seek to uncover the truth, Jenna, slowly, begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating.
* * *
I’ve had this book from Netgalley it seems like forever but other review commitments prevented me from getting to it. When the paperback came out, I bought a copy (I really like that cover) and I couldn’t wait any longer – it had to be bumped up the list.
I’ve seen so many reviews that mention the TWIST. So of course I was looking out for it….and, when it came, I can’t believe that I almost missed it! I had to read that part twice to make sure!
This was such a fabulous dark, twisty and chilling read that I sat up until 1.30 in the morning to finish it. The first part of the book has a slower pace as it sets the scene and you get to know some of the characters and then POW – the second half is a complete contrast, the story gets darker, and it is just so menacing. There were times that I was relieved to get back to the alternating police chapters just to get some respite from the tension.
The author’s experience as a former police officer really shines through in the narrative. The scenes involving the CID detectives, DI Ray Stevens and his colleague, the newly promoted Kate were believable without being overruled by too much unnecessary detail. Ray was one of my favourite characters. Tensions within his family cause conflict with his desire to do his job – the long hours and having family time interrupted by work, all the time having one eye on promotion and having to keep the boss on side. I felt for him in his attempts to please everybody but never quite achieving it. Kate was very conscientious and determined but for me slightly lacking in personal likeability factor. I do think however that they make a great pairing and I would love to see them return in a future story.
All the characters were extremely well written – and so very different – including Patrick the vet (who I just adored), the kindly Bethan from the caravan park and even the gruff and monosyllabic landlord Iestyn. Jenna of course was the main character. She appeared to be a very complex and insecure person, racked by guilt and grief and intent on hiding away in an isolated cottage. As the story progresses more of her history is revealed – and this is where the story becomes even more disturbing. I’m desperately trying not to give away any spoilers so I won’t say any more.
I have no hesitation in giving this 5* and it is a contender for my top books of the year. The plot is superbly structured and the twists are just so well executed that its hard to believe that this is a debut novel. I can’t wait to see what Clare Mackintosh comes up with next time.
About the author:
Clare Mackintosh spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant, and now writes full time. She is the founder and director of Chipping Norton Literary Festival, and lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and their three children.