Moggach’s debut draws the reader into a series of events that bring together three very disparate individuals and puts them into a bizarre game of chance and deceit.
Leila’s father left before she was born, and her mother died when she had barely reached young adulthood. Sheltered, socially inept and almost friendless, she secures a job testing software out of the home Leila bought herself: a run-down apartment over an Indian restaurant in Rotherhithe, in Southeast London. But things all change when Leila joins a philosophical discussion group on a website known as Red Pill and is befriended by the site’s owner, an American named Adrian. Leila is elevated to one of the site’s most trusted commenters, and soon, Adrian approaches Leila with a proposition. Would she pretend to be someone else online for about six months in order to cover up the woman’s pending suicide? The woman in question is a dark-haired, hypnotic gamine who entrances men and has many friends, basically the opposite of Leila. Tess, as she is known, has some emotional issues and doesn’t want anyone else to realize she’s gone off and killed herself, so she plans to do the deed someplace where her body won’t easily be found. Leila agrees and begins to correspond with Tess, learning her friends, habits, speech patterns, likes and dislikes, and history. But then things happen that Leila not only hasn’t counted upon, but also isn’t prepared to handle, and everything starts to tilt, changing the way Leila views what she’s doing and the people who are important to both women’s lives. In Leila, Moggach has drawn a young woman who is convincingly naïve in the ways of the world and incapable of making good decisions. The story crackles with tension until the end, when it inexplicably runs out of steam.
An interesting first book that manages to incorporate technology into a sexy psychological thriller that holds the reader’s attention until it reaches the oddly tame ending.