Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/
Three years ago, Susan Webster was convicted of murdering her twelve-week-old son Dylan during a severe bout of post-natal depression, and sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute.
She had no memory of committing the crime. Now free, she has changed her name and is attempting to rebuild her life when an envelope, hand delivered to her new address but her old name and containing a photograph of a toddler called Dylan, makes her question everything she has been told about what happened that night, and doubt that her son really is dead.
The premise of this debut psychological thriller is intriguing, and it soon had me hooked. Told largely in present tense from the point of view of Susan – now known as Emma – it begins with the day that she receives this fateful photograph, and we follow along with her as she attempts to find out who sent it to her and what actually happened the night she was supposed to have murdered her son. The back story of Susan’s life and what happened before she was sent to Oakdale unravels gradually, with Susan giving us glimpses into her memories and her past. Interspersed with this is a tale of a group of rather self-interested, thoroughly unpleasant and privileged school boys growing up and going on to university together in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is not initially clear how this story is connected to Susan’s but naturally all is revealed before the end of the book.
Psychological thrillers seem to be very popular with publishers at present, and this one has all the hallmarks of the genre: unreliable narrator in the form of a woman with a history of mental illness; friends and lovers who are too good to be true and prove to be just that; a growing feeling of claustrophobia and desperation as the main character attempts to dig through the web of lies that are obscuring the truth from her.
It is a suspenseful story that will have you turning pages, as eager as Susan is to discover what really happened that fateful night three years early. What let it down for me is that the big reveal struck me as a tad implausible. But they say truth is stranger than fiction, so who’s to say it hasn’t actually happened?
The story is a page-turner nevertheless, and fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep will really enjoy this book.