Having thoroughly enjoyed She’s Not There by Joy Fielding I was delighted to receive her latest novel from Readers First. If a missing child was at the heart of She’s Not There then missing girls are at the heart of this taut and quite chilling pyschological thriller.
As sub text the remit of including older female characters and rendering them both crucial to the storyline and characters of some substance is satisfied. Paige’s mum, Joan, leaps off the page at you. And if you are of mature years there is much to relate to. What I particularly enjoyed was the dynamic between her and Paige, (our sort of heroine), that ably demonstrated the balance required between being a mum and being your own person too.
However that is not the main thrust of the book. The story looks at the perils of internet dating sites and the risks you take when meeting up with strangers. It also looks at relationships and fidelity. I hope that isn’t one spoiler too many. Apologies if it is.
The cast of characters fall very much into two camps, the goodies and the baddies. The baddies are odious which is necessary because of what happens ultimately in the story and that I won’t give away except to say that I found the implications of what happens to one character really nasty. But I did see it coming. It didn’t dilute my feelings though and the conclusion is open ended which leaves the reader with that ‘looking over your shoulder’ feeling.
I guess it’s almost a fusion of chick lit meets psycho thriller but it never teeters over into one camp more than another. In fact I’ll qualify that by saying that the psycho thriller part does dominate.
The story is set in Boston which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few times even though I’m a Brit so many of the locations were familiar to me - Newbury Street and the Paul Revere House for example. As a reader I do enjoy that. It gives a story a subtle, subconscious almost, elevation.
Joy Fielding is an experienced writer who seems to know how to entertain readers even if that means making them uneasy! The narrative flows and rarely loses momentum so you want to keep reading and reading to find out if, and how, and why and when and a myriad of other questions.
But it isn’t a feel good book, even though the main characters emerge with various redemptions and there are some attempts at lighter moments I think you are left feeling vaguely disturbed. But, my dear reader, that is the diversity of fiction for you! And we wouldn’t have it any other way!