Yesterday

Written by Felicia Yap

Review written by Philip Gooden

His historical novels include the Nick Revill series, set in Elizabethan London, a Victorian sequence, and a series of Chaucer mysteries, now in in e-books.


Yesterday
Wildfire
RRP: £12.99
Released: August 10, 2017
Hbk

The world in Felicia Yap’s debut novel is very strange but also very familiar.

The setting is Cambridge in June 2015 and an election is imminent. Mark Evans is a best-selling novelist with ambitions to be the city’s next MP. His wife Claire is apparently loving and supportive. But then a woman’s body is fished out of the River Cam and the police rapidly establish an intimate connection between Mark and dead Sophia Ayling. Is the discovery of a mistress, and a possible murder charge, going to derail his campaign? That’s certainly what DCI Hans Richardson intends to happen. 

So far, so straightforward. The twist in Yesterday  - a high-concept twist taking us several steps beyond S J Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep  -  is that everyone in Yap’s novel has a defective memory. To be precise, the world is divided between those who can remember only the day before (Monos) and those who are privileged enough to remember the previous two days (Duos). There’s a scientific explanation for this, chucked in early on, and part of a convincing apparatus of pseudo-documentary material in the novel. So how do people recall their pasts? How do they know what they did, thought and felt last week, last month, last year? In the bad old days they wrote it down but now they commit their key memories to iDiaries at the end of each day or two. 

Plenty of space here for unreliable narrators. The story is told from four angles, husband, wife, mistress and policeman, through a mixture of present-tense narration and diary entries. Things are further complicated by the fact that Sophie seemed to be unique in having perfect recall and that DCI Richardson is a Mono struggling to act like a Duo  -  because Duos get much more status, respect and money. One of the most interesting things about Yesterday is the substitution of this Mono/Duo division for more usual class or racial ones. Monos are definitely second-class citizens.

Felicia Yap is also commenting on the selectiveness of memory, even its falsehoods, in real life. The domestic noir side of the book involves some very tortuous plotting and fairly soap-opera-ish antics which, oddly, strain belief more than the Mono/Duo set-up. But it’s an ambitious and intelligent thriller and I don’t think many readers will anticipate the final twist.    



Home
Book Reviews
Features
Interviews
News
Columns
Authors
Competitions
Blog
Shop
About Us
Contact Us

Privacy Policy | Contact Shots Editor

THIS WEBSITE IS © SHOTS COLLECTIVE. NOT TO BE REPRODUCED ELECTRONICALLY EITHER WHOLLY OR IN PART WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION OF THE EDITOR.