This book begins with Elizabeth writing a letter to her husband, Mike.
Mike, it quickly transpires, has drowned in a nearby lake while saving the life of a local teenager, Kate. Mike, a well-respected policeman who has previous form for putting his own life in danger while trying to save someone else, is feted as a hero but Elizabeth is falling apart at the loss of her soulmate, a man she left her home in Australia for several years earlier.
However, Mike may not be the hero everyone thinks he is.
Through a series of letters and time shifts, the miserable truth comes to light – with Mike’s death not being the worst thing that Elizabeth has to deal with while living in Throckton, a small village, where everybody knows everyone’s business.
I was pulled into this book from page one. Elizabeth’s anger at her husband for playing the hero is almost palpable. I felt that I experienced the whole gamut of emotions during this novel. The clever foreshadowing ensures that the reader knows, well before Elizabeth finds out, that her seemingly idyllic marriage was not so and, in a way, that provoked pity in me as well as outrage on Elizabeth’s behalf.
I have to say, though, the other characters in this book – Mike’s mum Patricia, his friends Blake and Andy, Elizabeth’s sister Mel – all add something to the narrative. I’ve got to admit, I was hoping for a romance between Mel and Blake but it was probably more realistic that their needs were put on the back burner in favour of looking after Elizabeth. Patricia, for me, was an excellent character – well-drawn, full of pomp and totally infuriating.
And as for Throckton, it was like it was a character in itself. We’ve all been to those places, haven’t we? It could be a village, it could be a workplace, it could be a pub – that place where everyone knows everything and you know that when you’re not there, you’re quite possibly the subject of conversation. Because of Stephanie’s wonderfully thought-out descriptions of Throckton, I also felt the cloying sense that everyone knew what was going on and it only served to ensure I felt as paranoid as Elizabeth surely did.
This is a novel that will pull you in and refuse to let go.
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