WHAT YOU DID – Claire McGowan |Blog Tour Review #WhatYouDid

Published by Thomas & Mercer
Published in hardback, paperback, audio and ebook formats (1st August 2019)
269 pages
Source: Copy provided by publisher for review


A vicious assault. A devastating accusation. Who should she trust, her husband or her best friend?

It was supposed to be the perfect reunion: six university friends together again after twenty years. Host Ali finally has the life she always wanted, a career she can be proud of and a wonderful family with her college boyfriend, now husband. But that night her best friend makes an accusation so shocking that nothing will ever be the same again.

When Karen staggers in from the garden, bleeding and traumatised, she claims that she has been assaulted by Ali’s husband, Mike. Ali must make a split-second decision: who should she believe? Her horrified husband, or her best friend? With Mike offering a very different version of events, Ali knows one of them is lying, but which? And why?

When the ensuing chaos forces her to re-examine the golden era the group shared at university, Ali realises there are darker memories too. Memories that have lain dormant for decades. Memories someone would kill to protect.


I’ve enjoyed Claire McGowan’s Paula Maguire series and jumped at the chance to join the blog tour for What You Did, a standalone thriller. My thanks to Emma of damppebbles for the tour invitation and the publisher for the review copy.

I devoured What You Did in one day.  I just couldn’t put it down.   It had the moral dilemma element which I love, historical backstory intrigue and features six university friends whose lives have taken them in very different directions, and who really no longer have very much in common, apart from one event from many years before which binds them together.

Ali’s husband Mike is accused of carrying out a serious sexual assault in the garden during a reunion party at their house. (The story features the after effects, not the actual act itself). Most had been drinking, some more than others, however nobody witnessed the event and it was one word against another. Ali, a voluntary board member of a rape victim support charity faces the dilemma of whether she believes her husband or her best friend. Despite Ali seeming to have her head in the sand half the time, I sympathised with her for all that she had to deal with and not just because of the actual assault element itself. Because of her job and her media profile for the charity, she was under pressure to publicly take her friend’s side, whilst at the same time wanting to support her husband.

What You Did is a multi layered story of deceit and secrets.  Revelation followed revelation, some a complete surprise, others not so, but each time I was wondering just how much more there was to come. Their lives as they were today, appeared to be formed by what happened 25 years before and gradually the full story was revealed.

Every character had their flaws, some were distinctly unlikeable and that’s what made them so interesting.  Loyalties were divided between the group; some had only their own interests to consider, and Ali found herself doing her own investigations as well as trying to hold her family together. Her teenage daughter is also having a tough time and has secrets of her own which Ali is unaware of.

There is so much that happens that it would be unforgiveable of me to give away any spoilers. I thought it was an excellent read and I was thoroughly gripped by it. It’s rare for me to be so engrossed by a book that I can read it in a day but I thoroughly enjoyed What You Did and would definitely recommend it.


Born in Northern Ireland in 1981, Claire McGowan studied in Oxford then lived overseas in France and China. She is the author of standalone thriller The Fall, and the Paula Maguire series, including The Lost, The Dead Ground, The Silent Dead, A Savage Hunger, Blood Tide, and The Killing House. The Paula Maguire series was optioned by the BBC in 2014. A ten-part radio drama written by Claire was broadcast on Radio 4 in early 2019, and as a screenwriter she was selected as the 2017/18 Nickelodeon International Writing Fellow.

Claire set up the Crime Thriller Writing MA at City University, London, and has also taught for the Arvon Foundation, Guardian Masterclasses and at many literary festivals.

As Eva Woods, she has published four women’s fiction novels, including the bestselling How To Be Happy.

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