Published: 25th January 2018
It’s the end of the night. You’re walking home on your own. Then you hear the sound every woman dreads. Footsteps. Behind you. Getting faster. You’re sure it’s him – the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave you alone. You make a snap decision. You turn. You push. Your pursuer tumbles down the steps. He lies motionless, face-down on the floor.
Call 999: Wait for the police to arrive. For judgement, for justice, whatever that may be. You just hope your husband, family and friends, everyone you love, will stand by you. Or.. Run: Stay silent. You didn’t mean to do it. You were scared, you panicked. And no one saw. No one will ever know. If you leave now. If you keep quiet. For ever.
Which will it be?
The incredibly captivating narrative begins on a Friday night in a bar in London, where our main character Joanne is catching up over a few drinks with her best friend, Laura. Early on in the plot, the tone of the book is set to be mysterious as before readers have the chance to turn the page, Joanne finds herself being sexually harassed on the dance floor and like most woman, she freezes, unable to speak out. Once the girls are outside in the cold air, they go their separate ways and the plot quickly takes a turn for the worst as Joanne has reason to believe that she is being followed. Within moments, her entire life has changed as she defends herself and before her every eyes, her attacker lies motionless on the floor. What does she do? Does she ring for an ambulance to try and save his life? Or should she run and save her own? It is quite clever how Gillian writes the rest of the book as readers are given the opportunity to read both scenarios and to see how each one unfolds: reveal and conceal.
“What do you do, I find myself thinking, when you think somebody is following you down a deserted strip of canal? You could become a statistic, a news pieces, a tragedy…”
With the plot being split into two scenarios, the readers are given a remarkable, in depth story about Joanne, her life, her marriage, her family life and how she is coming to terms with the decision that she has made. On one side, she has rung the emergency services who have reason to believe that she has committed a serious crime and on the other side, she is free but the guilt is destroying her life – she’s loosing weight, her marriage is falling apart and she’s bumped into her attacker’s family. The narrative was utterly fascinating and as a main character, Joanne’s was filled with a real personality: moody, anxious, terrified and despite these negative traits, it made her more realistic. At some stage in our lives, we all have to make a big life decision about the right thing to do and so, to be able to read Joanne’s was quite the insight…
“I have learnt my lesson, haven’t I? I am not going to do it again. I will never so much as touch another person again.”
What I enjoyed the most about the narrative was that both scenarios eventually became a full circle and so in reality, it didn’t matter which choice Joanne made, as she would have ended in exactly the same place. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this. I thought Gillian would have revealed right at the end which scenario Joanne was going to take but actually, readers never find out and to my own surprise, I think I prefer it that way as readers will then be able to decide for themselves (yes, it’s frustrating not to 100% know the outcome but it’s fun not knowing, right?). Gillian has an incredible writing style which is so raw and that allows her to describe the mystery is such a captivating manner. There was one shock within the plot which I didn’t see coming (and we all know that I tend to guess mystery plots quite easily!) and I’ll give you a little clue: it’s to do with Joanne’s husband. That’s all I’m going to say, otherwise, you may miss it.
“I fell asleep counting the days, on the sofa. It felt safer in the living room, away from his raw, naked form. I told myself that the police were following up on the loose ends because they have no idea who did it.”
Overall, Anything You Do Say is most definitely one of my favourite books of 2018. I highly, highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading crime and/or mystery because you will just absolutely devour the plot like I did. Spoiler: you won’t be able to put it down, it’s absolutely brilliant. Gillian, I can’t wait to read your next book!