As I’m a writer that reads, this book review comes first and then the life problems are the footnote to this new style post.
UPDATE: This was my first read for the 2019 Cloak and Dagger Challenge written before I compiled my list.
The Things You Didn’t See
Ruth Dugdall (Goodreads Author)
Her instincts are telling her something isn’t right…
On a chilly morning in rural Suffolk, Cassandra Hawke is woken by a gunshot. Her mother is clinging on to her life, the weapon still lying nearby. Everyone thinks it’s attempted suicide—but none of it makes any sense to Cass. She’s certain there’s more to it than meets the eye.
With her husband and father telling her she’s paranoid, Cass finds an unlikely ally in student paramedic Holly. Like Cass, she believes something is wrong, and together they try to uncover the truth. But is there more to Holly’s interest than she’s letting on?
With her family and loved ones at risk, Cass must ask herself: is she ready to hear the truth, and can she deal with the consequences?
Review 4.4 stars
If I went by the blurb, this book would be Cassandra Hawke’s tale – but that’s just part of this novel which starts twenty years earlier when eight-year-old Holly Redwood sees a ghost shot at a remote farm on Halloween. The unresolved experience lurks in her past until as a trainee paramedic she is called out to help with an attempted suicide – at the same farm.
Cass doesn’t believe that her mother committed suicide but her husband and her father behave as if she is paranoid. However, she befriends Holly who believes her as the explanations don’t feel right. And Holly suffers from synaesthesia, a condition where the person can feel the emotions of others as if they are their own – a mixed blessing it seems for Holly.
The setting pulled me in, in part as I know Suffolk and Norfolk. The descriptions were immersive, blending imagined places with the real ones that matched my memories.
The author uses two POVs to differentiate the two protagonists – first person for Cass and third for Holly. First allows the reader to see into Cass’s confused thoughts – the mind some say is paranoid. There are reasons for that, but I’ll just say that those are cleverly unclear at first. Who is telling the truth?
Holly as a protagonist stood out for me – and not just because of the prologue that set the unsettling feelings going.
As a fan of first person and deep POV, I kept wanting to get inside Holly’s head more than was possible. However, two first person POVs is hard for some readers, and the author made the necessary choice choosing Cass – a mind that twists the plot. And the suspicions. Would Holly as first person POV instead been a different book?
Suicide or murder? What starts as an ‘open and shut’ case, works through murder suspects at a steady pace that was in danger of losing me – especially when I identified the culprit or thought I did. But there was enough drama for me to read on and meet all the secondary characters – including the suspects. They all had their own traits and worked. But too many felt irritating, even if there was some justification for their attitudes. Death and murder have repercussions. Or do they for everyone? Who profits?
This is not a rushed mystery but as the plot deepens, the pace picks up. I had my suspicions, but my suspect remained hidden from the police for a long time. There was a point where I felt the story was being drawn-out, but I was also teased and tested. Suicide can be instigated, and I have experienced that. But that may or may not be the resolution?
Am I teasing or tempting you? Read this recommended novel to find out what happens in this cleverly crafted story. The twist works even if…well, you’ll see what I mean.
Story – four stars
Setting/World-building – five stars
Authenticity – five stars
Characters – four stars
Structure – four stars
Readability – four stars
Editing – five stars
I was aiming to write this review for Thursday 3rd January, but I was still working through New Year emails, my IWSG post, and other messages that overwhelmed me into Friday and beyond. And then came the weekend, and writing was not easy as my mind was fractured by my MS. Plus, the emails kept coming.
Anyway, this review was delayed until I could make a realistic space – and create a new banner that lets me post any day of the week.
UPDATE: Added the banner as I forgot yesterday – distracted by this new WordPress layout.
It didn’t help that I fell on the floor – or rather crashed out of my manual wheelchair transferring to a power chair. We’ve been looking at buying a power wheelchair, but they are expensive – especially on two retirement incomes. Second-hand is more manageable so that is the route we are going.
Falling hurts – especially when I smashed my head, broke a tooth, and bruised my right arm; I’m right-handed. Falling could be a theme too – for my memoir. Falling in love, falling from horses (or ponies) and falling ill – which means falling on the ground.
So, do I start working on / distracting myself with my life story? Should it be called ‘The Art of Falling’ or ‘A Life of Falling’ or something else?