A Near Miss



I was really looking forward to reading this book. I was attracted by the cover (so nice not to have yet another wishy-washy, pastel chick-lit type of cover) and by the title and the blurb on Amazon. I’d also read some splendid psychological thrillers recently, notably Gone Girl and was eager for more. I was to be disappointed.

Strangely though, this was almost a good read. That is, if you are thinking mostly in terms of the need to keep reading to find out what happens. On the other hand I found myself profoundly irritated, right from the start. The first and continuing source of my irritation was the editing, or rather the lack of it. If ever a book could have done with a good pruning, this was it. You make a point, or describe someone’s innermost thoughts, or describe a scene. Then you stop. There is no need to say the same thing over and over again, in slightly different ways.

A woman so transparent their brains must have been in their floral wellies not to have seen right through her.

I have just reviewed Norwegian by Night. A book that has many joys, of which the main one is the character of Sheldon. So endearing, prickly and flawed that you almost believe he is real. The characters in this book are the complete opposite.

Two-dimensional paper cut outs, straight out the pages of Country Life or Country Living. And shallow with it. And gullible. So-called friends willing to believe the worst on the say-so of a comparative stranger. A woman so transparent their brains must have been in their floral wellies not to have seen right through her.

This is such a pity, as the premise of the story is a good one. Gaslighting is a chilling form of mental abuse where false information is cunningly planted to cause the victim to doubt his or her own sanity. The fact that it happens in the real world should have lent credence to the book. And there were indeed a few occasions when I wasn’t sure who was the victim and who the perpetrator, as was the author’s intention. But in the end it wasn’t enough.

In view of all this, why would I give the book three stars on Goodreads? Simple. Because despite my many criticisms, this is a book that you have to keep on reading – no mean achievement for any writer. It’s a shame that the ending is rushed and implausible. Implausible or not there’s nevertheless a brilliant, subtle clue right at the very beginning. One which I missed though it’s hiding in plain sight. See if you can spot it.

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