Standalone or series
First time reading this author?
Why I picked this
I’ve seen lots of other people raving about Louise Candlish’s books and I was keen to give one a try.
Review copy or purchase
Thank you to the author, publishers Simon & Schuster and online book club Pigeonhole for access to read this book for free. This is an honest and voluntary review.
What it’s about
When Ellen’s son Lucas dies she blames his teenage friend. Her wish to see justice done becomes obsession as she is determined to make him pay.
Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. But, what if you thought someone else was to blame? What would you do to ensure that justice, as you saw it, was done?
For Ellen there’s nothing she won’t do to take revenge on her son’s friend Kieran. He was the one driving the car the night it crashed into the lake. He was the one who escaped, leaving Lucas trapped in the car to drown. He was the one who had been driving a wedge between Ellen and Lucas for two years before that night. Encouraging him to take drugs, sabotaging his academic successes, and driving him from the carefully planned out Oxbridge, career path Ellen had laid out for him.
She thought Kieran was gone, but suddenly he’s back in her life, rubbing her nose in his success, his life, while her son remains in the ground.
Or, at least that’s how Ellen sees it.
Ellen’s single-minded obsession with Kieran makes her hard to like. Her husband Justin, Lucas’s stepfather, has a much more reasonable attitude that there’s nothing to be gained from hating Kieran. Lucas’s biological father Vic appears to be much more on Ellen’s side, but any sign of forgiveness is immediately treated by Ellen as a betrayal and a weakness.
Lucas is a big character in this book, despite being dead when it begins. We only really see him through his mother’s memories, but even that rose-tinted version was clearly a boy acting out and likely to stay as distant from his mother as possible in adulthood. Of he’d lived I’d feel sorry for any future spouse – Ellen would be the mother-in-law from hell.
The densely plotted story is a rollercoaster journey as we twist and turn. Doubting everything Ellen says as she establishes herself early as an unbalanced and unreliable narrator. But, then also getting occasional glimpses from others, such as Vic, that she may not be wholly imagining things.
A fascinating read, and even if Ellen’s actions stretch the bounds of belief for you, it’s still easy to empathise with her frustrations and grief at losing someone she loved.