Published: 22nd February 2018
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Sophia’s parents lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing in silence. Her mother is hanging from a tree. Her father is lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death. The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. As her father is too ill to talk it is up to Sophia to clear her mother’s name. And to do this she needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there…
Thank you to Penguin for kindly sending me a review copy.
The narrative begins with Sophia, a twenty-seven year old single woman living her life to the max in London. As she tackles her social life alongside her hectic job, it comes apparent that her home back in Suffolk is the last thing on her mind. During the first few chapters, readers watch as Sophia goes from being happy in a night club with work colleagues to discovering her mother’s hung body in the back garden of her childhood home. It was a shocking opening to the plot, but without a doubt, Helen’s captivating words drew me in and I was absolutely loving every single word. Despite the heartbreak of her deceased mum and her father in a coma, it was very clear that there was an underlying mystery towards the outcome of the crime and I was desperate to know what had really happened.
“I had never known my mum to commit a violent act. Ever. She was the kind of woman who spend the best part of half an hour wafting a trapped fly towards the open windows of the house.”
As the police begin to investigate the suicide of Nina (Sophia’s mother), she receives a letter from a book publisher regarding Morningstar which indicates that her mother was ready to have her handwritten journals turned into a memoir. With Sophia and the readers completely unaware of this aspect of Nina’s life, the plot quickly turns from gripping to utterly fascinating as Sophia manages to track down the journals and as she reads about her mother’s life, the mystery unfolds. The journals are told in segments and they come directly from Nina’s perspective as she embarks on her education at Cambridge, to discovering the first love of her life and of course, to falling into a deep hole which she may have never truly dug herself out of. With Sophia having the first two notebooks in her possession, she is more than determined to hunt down the third and with the aid of her mother’s publisher Max (he seemed very shifty!), she speaks to those who Nina once knew in her cult days and oh my, what a saucy cult it is!
“Because there was absolutely no shadow of a doubt in my mind. Someone was after me and they meant me harm.”
I barely had chance to process what was happening within the plot as I was reading it so quickly, desperately wanting to know the story about Nina’s past. It is a book which you need to read for yourself as it’s quite easy to spoil it and if you’re a regular reader of my book reviews, you’ll know that I don’t do that. The character of Sophia was superb; she grew from a quiet girl living in London to this strong, independent woman who was determined to fight for her mother’s voice and she was certainly a force to be reckoned with. As the drama heated up, everything seemed to happen at once: Sophia was betrayed, the truth about her father came out, the third journal was discovered and I did wonder whether she would make it out alive or not. I’ve never read one of Helen’s books before but I’m now hooked on her writing as it is spectacularly gripping.