review by showhost oct 2016
I couldn’t decide which category to put this book in so I looked up the meaning of some genres:
Suspense Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Successful examples of thrillers are the films of Alfred Hitchcock. NO def not suspense or excitement
Psychological Thriller is a thriller story which emphasizes the abnormal psychological states of its characters. Psychological thrillers often incorporate elements of and overlap with mystery, drama, action, and horror. FORGET THE ACTION AND HORROR
ANOTHER DEFINITION: a suspenseful movie or book emphasizing the psychology of its characters rather than the plot; this sub-genre of thriller movie or book. In a psychological thriller, the characters are exposed to danger on a mental level rather than a physical one.
So think Psychological genre: mystery, drama, characters are exposed to danger on a mental level rather than a physical one.
The main character is Paul and you won’t like him but then you aren’t supposed to. He is self-centred, egotistical, sponging womaniser, with shallow feelings. He is a failed author who thinks his next book is round the corner. He sold one book when he was at uni, 20 odd years ago (not many copies though) and lived off the claim ever since. He has bummed off his friends ever since. In fact as the story begins he is living in a flat belonging to a friend who has gone travelling for a year plus. He meets an old student friend Alex, quite by chance, in a bookstore. They chat and Alex invites him to dinner. Paul goes because he will get a free meal and drink all night (even though he didn’t like Alex very much).
At the meal Paul is introduced to Alice, who’s husband died a year or two ago and Alex’s family. Alice isn’t Pauls usual type and especially as she has 2 teenage children with normal teenage attitudes who Paul doesn’t like. But Alice flirts with him a little.
Paul gets in touch with her a week or so later and is invited to dinner with her. Her house is decent enough and Paul imagines if he plays his cards right may get invited to come and stay. She talks a lot about the final holiday she, Alex and family will make to a Greek island where they have had a leased holiday home for years. But things are changing as the land has been sold to developers. Whilst out there they will carry on with their ‘help find Jasmine’ campaign. Jasmine went missing when they were out there 10 years ago. They often meet up with her parents on the anniversary of her disappearance. In fact Paul was out there too about 10 years ago but he was too drunk to remember it.
Paul decides he would like to be invited as it would be a cheap holiday and may give him the chance to finally win Alice over with his charms. Paul has to look for cheap travel, due to his shortage of money, but can’t tell Alice as he feels he has to impress her and Alex’s family. So starts his improvisation of the truth and his demise.
It isn’t an action packed, roller coasting twisting plot. More a slow simmer, which slowly bubbles as time goes on with some predictable paths. The family, in the beginning, reminded me a little of the Durrells, once the plot went to Greece. I would say if you liked Girl on the Train you would like this one, it’s got the same pace of plot with an undercurrent of tension and sense of growing unease. I did find myself thinking ‘but would these events have all fell neatly into place in the real world’, was it too contrived?
I enjoyed the novel and have recommended it to others who I know like slowly unfolding books, not those who like fast paced thrillers.