British journalist Erin Kelly’s debut suspense novel is a richly shaded work crammed with atmosphere, quirky characters and intricate plotting.
Karen Clarke’s perfectly ordinary life changes forever the day she spots an unusual girl writing a message on the corkboard in the hall of the London college where Karen studies linguistics. Biba Capel, a bohemian acting student, needs a tutor to help her with a German song she must learn for a production in which she’s appearing. Karen offers to help and before she realizes what has happened, she has been transported to a world she never knew existed. Instead of the flat occupied by her three stuffy school chums, Karen discovers that Biba and her brother, Rex, live in an old, crumbling mansion bordering a stretch of woods. When Karen’s boyfriend breaks up with her and her roommates set off for a summer in France without inviting Karen, she moves in with the Capel siblings and becomes an indelible participant in the dark and tragic events that shape their lives and bind them together forever. Told through flashbacks interwoven with scenes from the present, the book opens with Rex being released from prison, into Karen’s waiting arms. But the occasion is stressful: Karen has a secret and she’s terrified that someone will uncover it. The skillful intertwining of both the present and the past, which Kelly infuses with a mounting sense of urgency, is seamless.
A well-turned story that will linger in readers’ minds.