The Orphans

Written by Annemarie Neary

Review written by Maureen Ellis

Maureen Ellis is a keen reader in the crime genre. She regularly posts on Goodreads.com


The Orphans
Hutchinson
RRP: £12.99
Released: July 27, 2017
Hbk

I love a good mystery - something that engages the grey matter in an effort to ascertain exactly what has taken place. In this respect, AnneMarie Neary's The Orphans didn't disappoint.

The year is 1992, the location, North Goa, India. Two small children, 8 year old Jess and her little brother Sparrow (Ro for short ) sit quietly on the beach, awaiting the return of their parents. They sit there for hours, but neither parent ever returns. Eventually, the body of their father is discovered in undergrowth, but there are no clues regarding the disappearance of their mother Sophie. The news headlines at the time labelled Jess and Ro 'The Orphans'.

As the years pass, Jess becomes a successful lawyer and is determined she won't be defined by a newspaper headline. She shares her story with no one except her husband Charlie. Jess and Charlie have a beautiful little girl, Ruby – they have the perfect home, and a great social life. On the face of it, Jess has managed to put that traumatic event firmly in the past, but a face can be so easily moulded into something that it's not actually feeling, and it's something at which Jess is very adept.

Ro on the other hand, has never settled down. He's something of a drifter, someone who lives constantly in the past, chasing leads/sightings of his mother all over the world. And unlike Jess, he's more than happy to share his story, especially if some attractive female happens along, and particularly if it also gets him a bed for the night. Ro is determined (to the point of obsession) to discover what happened that day.

In his pursuit of the truth, he becomes increasingly unpredictable and unable to distinguish fact from fiction. When new evidence comes to light, suggesting that their mother Sophie may still be alive, Jess and Ro's lives are about to take a very unexpected turn.

This is a really compelling read that begins with a mystery, but it doing so, it tackles head on, the grief suffered by the siblings, the profound sense of loss that's almost unbearable to witness. AnneMarie Neary has given a great insight into how Jess and Ro's lives were forever dictated by what happened that day on the beach. The narrative is crisp and easy to follow, and the author ensures that her characters play their roles to perfection. The plot itself pulls the reader willingly along, the ultimate objective of course, being to discover what really happened on that long ago summer's day on a beach in Goa. This is an author I haven't read before, but can happily recommend The Orphans without reserve.



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