Monday, 15 July 2019

The Last Stage - Louise Voss

This review was originally part of the Nudge Books/New Books Magazine slot on the Blog Tour for this book

Look away now those of you who love to second guess a psychologic thriller ‘cause I don’t think you will. I don’t even think you can! I don’t even think you’d want to, why spoil the thrill?! And yet……. all the clues are there, so snuggly and craftily nestling in amongst the bulk of the narrative. I was reminded briefly of Minette Walters especially by one of the significant locations in the story. 

This is a delicious exploration into the clandestine and the obsessional with a smattering of police procedural thrown in for good measure. It’s an onion story where layer by layer the truth is divulged to us in the form of the past first person narrative of our ‘heroine’ Meredith Vincent. The rest of the  book is third person narrative and the technique works very well here.  Meredith’s exposition is almost confessional if it weren’t so chronologically detailed and thought provoking. For a while I thought there was too much detail and I was inwardly willing the writer to ‘get on with it’. But I realise now that it was my own impatience to find out ‘whodunnit’  and ‘howdidtheydoit’ that provoked such a response. The expansive detail is absolutely necessary for everything to make sense and slip into place so that by the end the reader is satisfied by all that has happened and the explanation of events. 

It’s dark and uncompromising and there are some ‘nasty bits’, but I don’t do spoilers so you’re going to have to read it for yourselves! If you’re a fan of the genre I cannot see how you would be disappointed.

But for all that it’s a psychological thriller it’ s a clever piece of work because you kind of have an almost  ‘big house’ story, in the shape of Minstead House, an almost ‘rock chick’ story with the band Cohen, an almost LBGT story with some of the characters, an almost retro protest story with Greenham Common  but none dominate or offer anything to unbalance the main thrust of the thriller.(I hope none of that info can be considered as spoilers?)  It’s a competent piece of writing by an experienced writer who seems to understand what her readers want and, what’s more, gives it to them generously.

There’s a touch of poignancy as the story hinges on misunderstanding with no real malice intended yet a whole chain of events spiral out of control from a misinterpretation causing the most devastating of occurrences that will affect many of the characters in this novel for a long time. Secrets are uncovered, friendships and relationships are tested.

Publishers Weekly assert that the book is ‘An expert piece of contrivance.’ yet it doesn’t read as contrived at all in my opinion. Retrospectively, I suppose you could argue, there’s some jig saw piecing of action but the very fact that it’s so hard to second guess explodes the contrivance theory I think. But, best you read it for yourselves and decide! ;-)

My thanks to Erin Britton at Nudge Books for the opportunity to read this book and be part of the blog tour.

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