Exquisite

Written by Sarah Stovell

Review written by Gwen Moffat

Gwen Moffat lives in Cumbria. Her novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. The crimes fit their environment, swelling that dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside cited by Sherlock Holmes. The style echoes this: rustic charm masking horror.


Exquisite
Orenda Books
RRP: £8.99
Released: June 01, 2017
PBO

Two women, a generation apart: Bo Luxton is a successful author with a comfortable elderly husband, young daughters, a cat and a cosy cottage in the Lake District. And there is Alice Dark, who aspires to be a writer, and lives in a squalid bedsit in Brighton with Jake, a drone.

The women meet on a creative writing course in Northumberland and are immediately and mutually attracted, Bo by the immense vitality and perceived promise of the other, Alice by the glamour of one who has written best sellers. Or so they rationalise initially but within the week attraction intensifies to passion and passion to obsession.

Creative writing bares the soul and steamy emails fly between Lakeland and Brighton; neither woman can wait until they meet again. Suspense is checked, balanced momentarily by the voice of reason in the person of Bo’s unimaginative husband who, cunningly deceived, deplores his wife’s compulsion to succour lame dogs, and by Jake, the Brighton drifter who, knows the truth yet dismisses it as a passing aberration. Both men are wide of the mark; it’s Anna, a police officer and Alice’s knowledgeable friend, who warns of danger.

In the event reason and warnings are disregarded and one of the inevitable consequences ensues. “One of” because there could be any one of several outcomes. The reader has been increasingly aware of this from the first page which introduced a note from a Women’s Prison written by one of the inmates, bereft and rejected. Excerpts continue throughout the book, ratchetting up suspense - but which woman is incarcerated? And what was her crime?

An alarming novel: infuriating at times, appalling, even frightening, and always a page-turner.



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