A man sits along in the office of Shanamore Holiday Cottages in Ireland. He has only one guest, and Andrew spends his evenings watching her – filming her – through the camera hidden in her room. And then one night, as he watches, a black-clad figure emerges from the shadows and brutally murders the sleeping guest.
And then, as if Andrew wasn’t terrified enough, the murderer walks to the camera and destroys it.
Natalie O’Connor, internet celebrity, is concerned about her relationship with her husband, Mike. When she finds indications of his infidelity, she heads to the location indicated on the incriminating credit card bill – she heads to Shanamore…
Catherine Ryan Howard wrote a stunning debut novel. Distress Signals was a twisty thriller with a real mystery at the heart of it, and I absolutely loved it. The Liar’s Girl, her second novel, was a good book, but I enjoyed it a little less because I guessed early on what game was being played. So what was the third book going to be like?
How best to describe my experience reading it? Well, I was sent a review copy an age ago, but I always tend to read and review close to publication date. No idea why I don’t read it and then schedule the review, but that’s how I do things. Anyway, I discovered yesterday that the publication date had moved forward from what I had in my calendar to… well, today. So I messaged Catherine Ryan Howard (who had been nice enough to send me a review copy) that there might be a delay, which she was very gracious about. And then I settled down to start reading it…
It has been a while since I read a book this quickly, but I could not put it down. My first impression of the time-jumping – we start with the murder and then, using “Rewind”, “Fast Forward” and time stamps – was that it was a gimmick, but it quickly proved to be a real strength. The structure keeps the reader on their toes and helps develop background and resolutions while still leaving all of the revelations until the denouement. It’s a masterpiece in plotting, but there’s so much more going on here.
The author has created a number of focal characters, primarily Natalie, and, investigating Natalie’s disappearance in the “future”, Audrey, a would-be crime reporter, but there are a number of others who take their time in the spotlight too, all of them feeling like real people (which is unfortunate in at least one case, but given what the character has done, I thought that section was very thoughtfully written.)
I can’t really say much about the plot at all, apart from, once again, praising its cleverness. There are a number of “wow” moments, one in particular towards the end as you realise just how… no, not going there. Definite spoiler.
This is advertised on Amazon as being “for fans of the Hunting Party”. I hope fans of The Hunting Party read it as it’ll show them what a real twisty thriller should be like – i.e. with more than one twist, liberally spread out to keep the reader engrossed. And I hope that tag-line doesn’t put off people who, like me, thought The Hunting Party was a bit over-rated – it’s got a good ending, but it takes a long time getting there and is pretty guessable. Rewind on the other hand…
OK, it feels like I’m going round in circles now, just saying the same thing over and over again. This is a fantastic thriller, one of the best modern-day crime novel that I’ve read for ages.
Availability: It’s out today! Thursday August 22nd, 2019, in hardback and as a very reasonably priced ebook. Many thanks to Catherine for the review copy.