Book eleven, I’m already doing so much better than any other year of this challenge, now I’m wondering if I will make it to fifteen?
Sleeping With A Psychopath
An epic true story of love and deception told by the woman whose life was destroyed by a seductive conman, Mark Acklom. The British Dirty John.
After a job change and divorce, Carolyn Woods was living happily in a quiet Cotswolds village when an attractive stranger abruptly arrived in her life. Introducing himself as Mark Conway and much to her surprise Carolyn quickly became captivated by this mysterious man. A rich Swiss banker (who later confided he was a spy), he offered Carolyn companionship and introduced her to an exciting, glamorous world. In fact, some things were so astonishing she questioned her new lover. Was all as it seemed?
The truth devastated Carolyn’s entire world. For a start, this man’s real name was Mark Acklom and he was rich but for one reason only… A real-life crime thriller, Sleeping with a Psychopath is a blow-by-blow account that shines a light on the power of manipulation and the human will to survive.
I enjoy true crime I tend to listen or watch it more than I read it but when this book popped up on my radar I was very interested, having never heard of the story before, to dive in. I have to say that this is a strange one I wouldn’t really say I enjoyed this book as such but I did want to finish it just to find out what happened, I feel like there was so much potential for this story to be something amazing and it kind of completely missed the mark.
I think my first main issue is that with true crime there are usually large parts of the process that would be kind of uninteresting to get through but in most of the books that I have read there has been a slightly different angle or a part of the story that the reader can possibly relate to that gives a bit of flourish to the story because otherwise it can become a little dry and repetitive. Unfortunately, that is one of the things that this book suffers from, it is a very straightforward account and there isn’t anything in the writing that managed to give it that engrossing story feel, in fact, there were many occasions I found myself skim reading and skipping pages looking for something more interesting and I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything from skipping those parts of the story.
I also feel that there is too much contradiction and not always enough context for the story, I am not saying that what she has said isn’t true it’s just that how certain things are presented in the book without further explanation caused me to really second guess what she was saying. I think some examples will help here and I don’t think it spoils too much of the story to share them, firstly that Carolyn was to delete messages at Mark’s request, I’m sure it mentioned at the end of every day, and yet she seems to have them all to look back over and add into the book, especially given the fact that he has access to her phone. She mentions in one message that letting agents had told her she was not earning enough to rent her place but she later reveals she has £850k in her bank, when I first read about her not earning enough I then couldn’t get my head around the fact that she suddenly seemed to have £26k to lend to Mark without blinking an eye.
The last one I will mention is that at one point she mentions never having heard of the phenomena of gaslighting and ghosting when in a previous chapter she mentions feeling like she was going mad and watching the film Gaslight and even describes it as such, “…it was an old black and white film about a man who convinced his wife that she was going mad. He played psychological games with her…telling her she was imagining it, and all the while gradually taking control of her.”. Again I am not implying that she isn’t being truthful in her account I just think that in the writing and editing process making sure that the timeline is not so confused or that we have a little more context around the things that she mentions would have made for a much smoother reading experience. It also would have made her a little more believable because whilst I was reading the book these things that I picked up on kind of made me feel like she wasn’t being accurate, it is just on reflection that I think it is the fault of the structure.
The story is an interesting one and whilst at times I do think Carolyn spins herself very favourably even though her actions do on many occasions contradict that, I can accept that she was taken in by this man and wanted to believe that all the completely outlandish things that he was telling her were real because of her feelings for him, even when the story seems very unbelievable I know that it is those feelings that made her not question or doubt the lies. I did also like that there were parts at the end of each chapter when talking about Mark, that reflected on the signs that Carolyn has subsequently picked up on, those were very interesting to me as there were terms that I hadn’t heard of before.
I did have high hopes for this book so it is a shame that it didn’t quite live up to it, I still finished it and I was still curious to find out what happened to everyone at the end of the story but I feel it was very perfunctory and I definitely prefer to feel more of a connection when reading a book of this genre.