I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
About The Book
Can you tell the truth from the lies?
Sadie loves her daughter and will do anything to keep her safe.
She can’t tell her why they had to leave home so quickly – or why Robin’s father won’t be coming with them to London.
She can’t tell her why she hates being back in her dead mother’s house, with its ivy-covered walls and its poisonous memories.
And she can’t tell her the truth about the school Robin’s set to start at – a school that doesn’t welcome newcomers.
Sadie just wants to get their lives back on track.
But even lies with the best intentions can have deadly consequences…
I read Blood Orange, the debut runaway success novel by Harriet Tyce quite recently and thought it was a great, twisty, psychological thriller. When I heard that she had another book on the way I was excited to read it, hoping for more of the same and I was not disappointed. I read it one evening and just had to know what was going to happen next.
Sadie and her daughter Robin have moved from New York back to London and are living on Sadie’s family home. It’s a cold and forbidding place, filled with ugly memories of Sadie’s childhood and it’s somewhere she swore she’d never return to, let alone live there with her child. Her husband is still in the US, their marriage has failed and she is reeling from the way he has treated her. Their escape to London is a fresh start but, things never run quite that smoothly.
Robin is enrolled at Sadie’s old school, a place she was miserable at, but as we discover, she has no choice but to send her there. It is a private school where the parents are more cliquey than the pupils and your social standing is a measure of your worthiness. The pack of mothers are ruled by a Queen Bee whose subjects fall into line and poor Sadie is the newcomer who is trying to work out what the rules of this made up game are. You don’t have to be a parent to get your hackles up at the snide comments, looks, giggles and nudges that these (grown) women throw Sadie’s way. We’ve all been on the receiving end of a group of mean girls and the depiction of their behaviour is on point. Of course as adults we would speak out or turn away but Sadie is aware that the way she behaves will impact upon Robin’s popularity and so she is forced to ingratiate herself.
This isn’t just a book about a bunch of bitchy women at the school gates though. It’s a multi-layered read which deals with divorce, motherhood, abusive behaviour and being a single parent. Sadie had put her career on hold to move to America and now she is back in London she attempts to get back to work, going cap in hand to the chambers where she used to work to ask for her job back. Now at the bottom of the pecking order she finds herself doing the grunt work for the defence team in a trial where a teacher is accused of grooming his female pupil.
These two storylines run parallel to one another, pulling Sadie in opposite directions. Her attempts to balance single parenthood with work run her ragged both mentally and physically. The PTA look down on her for working rather than investing all her time in ensuring Robin gets the best exam results and you just know the wheels are going to come off somewhere.
It’s got great characterisation and a well-constructed narrative which kept me turning the pages. The author was a criminal barrister and it shows; some of my favourite parts of the book were around the court case and the building of the defence. It’s cleverly written, drawing you in to the case and its events before whisking you back to the world of school politics.
This is a tense read and the book almost pulses with tension at times. There is something deeply wrong at the heart of the novel, we don’t quite know what, but it’s there, just peeking round the corner, just out of reach. Harriet Tyce does such a great job at dropping small clues and red herrings, leading us one way then another and all the time there is this undercurrent of threat.
It’s a twisty read with a lot going on and for the most part it is well handled, with the multiple plotlines dovetailing together nicely. There was a twist too many for me, but I did really enjoy it (I read it one sitting) and really love how well Harriet Tyce writes her characters; they’re full rounded and immediately visible in my mind’s eye. It’s a great psychological thriller which more than holds attention. Recommended.
Where You Can Buy It
My thanks to Headline for supplying me with a copy of the book via Netgalley and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for an invitation to join the Blog Tour.