SJI Holliday has been reading crime fiction since she was able to hold a book. She writes short stories and her debut novel, Black Wood was published in spring 2015. You can find out more at www.sjiholliday.com.
One summer morning, three little girls meet for the first time. By the end of the day, two will be charged with murder.
This is a story about Amber Gordon, a downtrodden funfair manager who tries to help whoever she can, and Kirsty Lindsey, a stressed, middle-class, reporter with a drink problem and an unemployed husband. The women’s lives are apparently unlinked, until a series of events reveals that all is not as it seems: the two girls knew each other as children, and together they were responsible for the death of a young girl.
When Amber stumbles across a dead body at her workplace, it starts a chain of events that brings Kirsty back into her life. They both try hard to keep their secret, which is unravelled through a series of flashbacks, but Amber has enemies who try their hardest to pull things apart – namely, her colleague, Jackie and her sinister stalker, Martin. As Kirsty’s family remain oblivious to the torment that she is facing, Amber’s falls apart when her boyfriend is arrested, and still, Martin continues to harass everyone he thinks has wronged him, leading to devastating consequences and for Amber, the ultimate sacrifice.
There’s a lot going on in this book. As well as the main characters, there are a quite a few key players both in the present and in the past and Marwood manages to tangle it all up so you’re continually thrown off-kilter and never quite sure who to trust. Both Amber and Kirsty are depicted well, and I felt like I knew who they were and what they were about. There are a lots of surprises and the pacing is just right to keep you turning the page, and just when you think you’ve got it all worked out, another twist is thrown in.
For me, this was not so much a psychological thriller or a ‘whodunnit’ (although it is both), as a tale of friendship, and the consequences of seemingly mundane actions; of frustration and reversal of fortune, and all of it written so convincingly you could fully imagine it happening to you.