Stephanie Gordon, her husband Mark, and her young son, Henry, have just moved into a new home in London. They are attempting a much needed ‘new start’. Events prior to our meeting them have not gone well for Steph. She was traumatized by a brutal attack when she was only fifteen, and, after the birth of Henry, she suffered from debilitating post-natal depression. Whilst she was depressed and barely functioning, Mark had an affair. Now… she is pregnant again, and is very fearful that the darkness of depression is catching up to her again.
Mark works as a television producer and is away from home for long stretches at a time. Steph and Henry are left alone. Now however, in this new neighborhood, there are two new neighbors who seem to have their best interests at heart and whom she can rely upon to help her if she needs it. Laurence, a divorced man, lives alone next door. Lila, lives across the street. Lila is part of a couple, but her boyfriend also works away a lot.
Strange things begin to occur to Steph. She receives bouquets of dead flowers. Sometimes they are left on the doorstep, sometimes on the draining board, and… sometime under the bed. Email messages are sent from her account that she cannot remember sending. Her mobile phone goes missing. Her best coat goes missing. A picture that Henry drew vanishes from the fridge…. Her best friend Tessa, who now lives in New York, receives some nasty emails from Steph. Steph has no knowledge of sending them. She gets phone calls that hang up once she’s answered them. Her telephone messages vanish before she gets to hear them. Then.. she gets an email herself. It contains only one line:
“I am watching you always“.
When Mark returns from his work in Paraguay on Christmas Eve, Steph relates to him all the weird things that have been happening. He doesn’t really take her seriously. He, and her new friend Lila, even her therapist, all seem to thing she is suffering from paranoid delusions. Stephanie begins to wonder if she IS going crazy. She blames her fluctuating hormones, but seriously, can’t she have a little less self-doubt?
This domestic thriller has a lot going for it. For one thing, I read it faster that I’ve read a book for quite a while. I just couldn’t put it down! The pages fairly turned-themselves. The characters were well-drawn, and the pace was warp speed. About half-way through I had it all figured out and was silently screaming at Steph to figure it out as well. Then the tension was ratcheted up even more…
It ended leaving me wondering if I had the full book, or if pages had been omitted from the end. What I expected was an ‘epilogue’. What I got was a ‘prologue’ of another of the author’s books. In my humble opinion, the storyline is fatally compromised by an ending that leaves you feeling horribly cheated.
I found myself having to make up an ending for myself. Was that the author’s intention? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Either way, it IS a thriller that I will remember for a long time, only because the end of the book came without warning, abruptly, and was frustrating in the extreme.
I will read another of this author’s work, if only to see if she does know how to end a book. (Ha-ha. Perhaps THAT was her intention!)
Seriously, if the ending had resolved the story, I would have given it 5 stars.
Lisa Hall loves words, reading and everything there is to love about books. She has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl – either that or a librarian – and after years of talking about it, was finally brave enough to put pen to paper (and let people actually read it). Lisa lives in a small village in Kent, surrounded by her towering TBR pile, a rather large brood of children, dogs, chickens and ponies and her long-suffering husband. She is also rather partial to eating cheese and drinking wine.
Readers can follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaHallAuthor