I have noticed that when police identify a murderer its common for his neighbours to exclaim that the person seemed so nice and normal, the phrase ‘very quiet, kept themselves to themselves’ is often used. Despite TV and cinema’s preference for the devious, risk taking, psychopathic serial killer, often it seems individuals become killers due to mental health issues, trauma or fear. Do we really know those everyday acquantainces and work colleagues as well as we think. Maybe they have secrets and hidden depths we are unaware of? Which what is examined in this months second book review, its A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon and published by The Borough Press ( http://www.boroughpress.co.uk ) on the 28th April.
In the book we meet Linda and Terry whose lives are unsettled from their normal routine by a series of local murders. At first there’s a sense of excitement amongst the locals who flock to the crime scenes as if for entertainment but soon fear takes over, especially as it becomes clear the serial killer might be one of them! Linda has already undergone a childhood trauma and moved to the area to make a new start. After settling down with Terry she starts to wonder if this is all life holds? She sees the glamourous lifestyles pictured in catalogues and magazines delivered for her house’s previous occupant, Rebecca, and yearns for something more. She decides to try and track down Rebecca but is the grass always greener and why is Terry acting so oddly?
I read and enjoyed Joanna Cannons previous book, The Trouble with Sheep and Goats and enjoyed the quirky story so much I recommended it as my book club choice shortly after. So I was delighted to be given the chance to review this, her latest offering is another gentle, slow burn of a narrative but again Joanna really brings her characters to life. In Linda we have, I felt, one of those people who seems to be on the margins of things, that people don’t pay enough attention to, or take advantage of. You feel sorry for her and worry that she’s going to come off badly. This is reinforced by the insertion of a psychiatric hospital-based chapter every so often, which appears to be relating whats happening subsequent to current plot events, and makes you think the worst has happened.
The thing I like best about Joanna Cannon’s writing is that she builds a feeling or belief that you have everything understood in relation to the story but then adds something which surprises you. Feeling smug and think you know what is happening? Think again! There’s also a fair amount of humour here, especially in some of Linda’s musings on her fellow characters. Plus, a masterclass in human behaviour observation.
This English Author Joanna cannon’s fourth book, her previous novels were The Trouble With Sheep and Goats (2015), Three Things About Elsie (2018) and a memoir titled Breaking & Mending: A Junior Doctor’s Stories Of Compassion and Burnout (2019). She left school at fifteen and worked her way through various jobs, before returning to education in her thirties and qualifying as a doctor in her forties. her work as a Psychiatrist and interest in people on the fringes of society continues to inspire her writing, she lives in the Peak District with her family and four legged companion Lewis, whom she walks the fields with when not baking, watching football or reading.
Another brilliant novel from Joanna Cannon, that may sneak up on you or leap out of a dark corner with its understated cleverness and knock the wind out of you.
Reviewed by Georgina Murphy
This book is part of a Random Things blog tour,