I seem to be having a run of family secret and particularly sister relationship novels to read. Either via my book club or The Library Door; they keep coming. A feminine spin on things would appear to be 2019’s trademark, with remakes for films using female lead characters instead of the original, male ones and a raft of strong female leads in film and TV.
A place to Lie, by Rebecca Griffiths published in paperback by Sphere (www.littlebrown.co.uk) on the 19th August, is this month’s third book review and tells the story of a summer in the childhood of two sisters.
Told in the present day and in flashback to 1990, we unravel a complex series of events, which result in two deaths and the destruction of many lives. The story begins with the death of Caroline, who believed she was being stalked. Having lost contact with her sister a decade earlier, Joanna is at first guilt-ridden. She starts to look into Caroline’s recent history and begins to think there might be a link between current events and what happened in the summer of 1990. Joanna and Caroline are sent to stay with their Aunt Dora for the summer, after the death of their father and an attempted suicide by their grieving mother. Left to their own devices by their aunt, they indulge in childhood games and adventures, with a local girl, Ellie. Going unsupervised and unnoticed, they observe the odd and furtive behavior of many of the local inhabitants. Caroline who has a crush on Ellie’s older brother and believes he reciprocates her feelings is horrified to find he has a girlfriend. When Ellie disappears, the sister’s question the motives of everyone around them and Caroline makes an accusation that affects the futures of all involved. Joanna’s present-day enquiries uncover some unpleasant truths and put her in the sights of a killer….
Another complicated sister relationship here. Whereas in Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou, reviewed previously on this site, whose story was told through the eyes of one of the sister’s, giving I felt, a biased perspective to events, this story is told in the third person. There were lots of sinister characters here. The subject of child grooming and paedophilia loomed large. It was interesting to read how, despite Caroline’s discomfort around several of the male character’s over friendliness, their behavior was tolerated. I can certainly recall the odd over-familiar family friend, being a bit too cuddly, but as a youngster, being too young to realize the inappropriateness and too polite to make a fuss, you simply put up with it in a different era when lewd comments, bum pinching were accepted. Griffiths makes the most of several instances and suggestions of dodgy men, so that when Ellie is killed you have a raft of suspects. There is also more than a hint of Atonement by Ian McEwan here; with an accusation that is unable to be retracted. Is it entirely unfounded? Who is the perverted killer? Did they strike again?
This is English author Rebecca Griffiths (@rebeccagriffit7) second book after her debut novel, The Primrose Path (2016). After a successful business career which saw her working in London, Dublin and Scotland, she returned to her roots in Mid-Wales with her artist husband , their three vampiric cats and over-sized pet sheep.
I enjoyed this book in the main. The ending and reveal, left me slightly dissatisfied. The ploy of the person you least expect was pushed to an extreme, I felt. The explanations for the other suspects behaviour seemed contrived. I felt a little short changed. Part of the fun of reading a crime thriller is to try and work out who done it before the reveal, and I felt a bit cheated. But at least it was a surprise!
A well written book, which gripped me throughout and which I could see being turned into a TV series or film easily. So, download a copy or nip down your local book shop soon, because I don’t think it will be lying about on the shelves for long.
Reviewed by : Georgina Murphy
This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought of it visit their sites listed below. Then, if you get a copy and read it come back and tell us what you thought, we’d love to hear your feedback.