review by Maryom
Olivia Sweetman seems to have it all. She's a respected professor of history, now becoming known to the wider public through a popular TV series and guest appearances on other programmes, happily married with three children, and now she's about to break into the publishing world with her first book, Annabel, about a Victorian feminist, one of the first female surgeons, and perhaps a murderer, it's sure to be a best-seller.
Behind this public facade, though, things are not so rosy. Her husband's actions have disturbed their marital harmony, her eldest son is behaving like the stroppiest teenager ever, and Vivian Tester, the woman who helped with so much of the research for Annabel, is refusing to accept that their partnership is over, and she holds a secret that could break Olivia.
In brief outline, this doesn't seem an unfamiliar plot - well known, glamorous media personage is stalked by the 'little guy' they've trampled over to reach their position, but as the story unfolds, seeing events from first one woman's point of view then the other's, it becomes apparent that the relationship between the two women isn't that simple. Each has behaved badly and in some way wronged the other, they both have secrets to hide, and I found it difficult, with my sympathies swapping from one to the other, to decide who was the most injured party. Although some of the 'extras' are fairly sketchy, Olivia and Vivian are particularly well-drawn and fleshed out; not the common two-dimensional characters of many thrillers, but real people you can empathise with, which makes for a more compelling read.
As you'd expect there are twists and turns, and a bombshell or two, as the story unfolds, and maybe the only downside to it is that it won't have the same impact on a second read.
Publisher - Quercus
Genre - adult psychological thriller