In this edgy novel of shifting perspectives, a family learns that keeping secrets can be even more damaging than surviving generations of drugs and abuse.
When we first meet Hannah, she’s alone in her cottage in the British countryside, consoling herself with a glass of wine after breaking up with boyfriend Matt, when she gets a phone call. It’s a London police officer telling her that her sister, Nina, whom she hasn’t seen in a decade, has been found dead. Worse, Nina was found by her 15-year-old son, Abe, who has no one to take him in. Hannah drives to London in a daze and returns to her cottage with a sullen, silent Abe. A tense situation is made worse when strange things start to happen, such as pictures being moved in Hannah's cottage and strange people appearing in her isolated village, calling her by name. As Hannah’s narrative progresses, she becomes more uncertain of everything. So does the reader, but that is certainly Howells’ intent. When the London police delve further into Nina’s death, it’s not only Hannah’s drinking that causes them, and other people, to question everything about Hannah’s life. Her troubled past and her relationship with Nina are revealed not only by Hannah's narration, but by other characters via letters, a technique used here with mixed success.
While this novel relies on plot turns that may not surprise seasoned readers of suspense, its kaleidoscopelike turns provide enough interest for a satisfying read.