Twenty years ago
21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.
She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier –
and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.
A body’s been found.
And Francesca’s drawn back to the seaside town she’s tried to forget.
Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out.
Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn’t returned.
Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.
The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.
But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now’s the time to find out – isn’t it?
Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear – your family, your sanity and even your life . . .
We couldn’t pretend that everything was as it had been because your death changed our world.
This, for me, is quite a hard book to review, especially without giving away lots of spoilers, but I shall try my best to summarise.
Frankie is drawn back to her childhood town when a body is pulled out of the water, believed to be Sophie; her best friend who had gone missing twenty years ago. Daniel, Sophie’s brother, has asked Frankie to help him try and figure out what happened to his sister. However there is a secret in the girls past that unravels when she arrives back in the seaside town and nobody seems to want to talk.
The story has an interesting style, it is partly told through Frankie’s viewpoint as if she is talking to Sophie and partly from Sophie’s through a diary from before she disappeared. I think this is a really effective technique as it gives a good comparison between perspectives and stops it from being too one sided, giving a clearer view of the story as a whole.
The mystery is introduced quickly, which keeps you hooked into the story, names and motives are added in at different points of the story to keep you guessing, setting the pace nicely to begin with. However in the middle of the book I felt like this dropped off rather rapidly, too many people suddenly come under suspicion and what started as an effective tool, to me, began to feel silly. I get the feeling that this was supposed to show Frankie’s growing paranoia but it just made the story a little tedious at points.
Another issue I had with this book was that I had absolutely no connection with Frankie; I found her disingenuous, too self involved and generally quite annoying, which didn’t endear her to me at all. I think that the character is supposed to come off this way, which actually I could understand in the parts of the story based in 1997, as those are more realistic traits for that age. However twenty years later I would have expected her to have grown out of it, and I realize that you can be self involved at any age but personally I think this came across as her being childish.
A difficulty that arose from this is that there is a lot of back story from Frankie’s perspective which I would get a little bored of reading, some of it is central to the plot; even if its not revealed why at that point; but some of it felt unnecessary. It didn’t help the character development in any way, especially since we already have a voice of the past through Sophie’s diary.
Despite these issues there is a very unusual twist in the story, which I don’t think I have come across before in a novel, I certainly didn’t see it coming and I found it really refreshing. Additionally the plot of the story was well thought out and interesting, and even though for me it did slow down a little in the middle, I still found myself devouring the pages because I had to know the outcome.
Thank you to Michael Joeseph, Penguin UK and Netgalley for the review copy of this book.