Monroe’s debut thriller is a paranoiac’s dream with plenty of twists.
It’s been five years since Rosa Sandhoe, the love of Dubliner Jarlath “Jar” Costello’s life, supposedly jumped off a bridge to her death. Her body was never found, and Jar, who frequently “sees” Rosa, has convinced himself that she’s still alive. He finds a sympathetic ear in his best friend, Carl, but Carl is sure that Jar, in his enduring grief, is just seeing things and recommends that he see a psychologist specializing in “post-bereavement hallucination.” When Rosa’s aunt Amy finds what she believes is Rosa’s diary, written while she stayed with Amy and her troubled husband, Martin, she gives Jar the hard drive, but it’s encrypted, so Carl finds someone who can decode it. Entries are sent to Jar as they are recovered, out of order, and that's how they’re presented within the novel, interspersed with Jar’s investigation. The diary entries are revelatory, and Jar becomes increasingly convinced that Rosa was recruited for a disturbing government project, perhaps because of her deceased father’s work. Rosa’s diary entries reveal a young woman conflicted about her place in the world: she’s not quite sure of how she fits into student life at Cambridge, and her intense love for Jar has her at odds with her nearly unbearable grief after her father’s death. When Jar’s efforts attract the attention of the police, he’s sure he’s getting closer to a horrible truth about Rosa, and for him there’s no turning back, but what if the truth is closer to home than he ever could have imagined? Jar’s labyrinthine search is intimately entwined with Rosa’s story of self-discovery, making for an exciting read that combines the thrill of a spy novel and the intimacy of a coming-of-age tale.
Fast-paced, satisfying, and, ultimately, life-affirming.