This is a great exciting read, hard to put down once you get into it.
The main character is Cass, she is a teacher living with her new husband in rural England. One night she is driving home from work in a heavy storm after an end of term celebration with colleagues. Against her husband’s strict advice she takes a short cut down a quiet lonely stretch of road close to her home. She sees a car parked with a woman in it, she hesitates but doesn’t stop as the woman doesn’t indicate she is in trouble. Has the woman broken down? Is she unwell? Or is she up to no good?! Cass doesn’t know but is too nervous to stop in case it’s a trick, also it’s late and throwing it down with rain. She just wants to get home and also feels a little guilty about fibbing to her husband about her route – if she stops and gets involved there’s more chance he might find out she lied to him. So she goes home to bed.
The next day she is horrified to hear on the news that a young woman has been brutally murdered in the spot where she saw the woman parked. Now is the moment to come forward and go to the police as a witness and own up to her husband. But she doesn’t, she is overcome with guilt and shame, wondering if she could have save the woman, so she continues with the lie that she did not take that route home and quickly it feels too late to confess the truth.
After this incident Cass’ life begins to unravel. The guilt and lies seem to drag her down, she becomes stressed and forgetful and starts to wonder if she is developing the Early Onset Dementia that killed her mother. Around this time strange things begin to happen – she starts getting silent phone calls and sensing someone is watching her and believes someone has been in her house and moved things around while she has been out. Is it the killer taunting her because he knows she is a potential witness or is it all part of her mental problems and possibly a serious illness? We don’t know and nor does Cass!
I can’t say much more without getting into spoiler territory – so I will stop there with describing the plot. I hope I have said enough to get you interested as this is certainly worth reading if you want something exciting and mysterious without being too challenging or gory. This is my kind of thriller.
As to down sides, I did find Cass and her lifestyle a bit dull at times. She is only in her early 30s but for ‘fun’ all she does is potter in the garden wearing her special gardening shoes, for a treat she might nip into the nearest market town for a coffee or to wander round the shops. She and her husband are young and well off with a large inheritance from her mother as well as two professional salaries but their lifestyle reminds me of my late grandparents! (Probably me just being judgemental because I am such a trendy urbanite myself). With reflection though I think her slightly dull character and lifestyle work for the plot, and they make sense as she was a carer for her sick mother from her teens to around 30 so probably never had chance to develop her own interests or find an circle of exciting, varied friends. A wild, flamboyant character would probably have felt a bit much with the dramatic plot and Cass is actually a nice source of calm at the centre of things.
Another slight issue I had was that the climax seems to arrive in a bit of a rushed manner…but that is possibly just because I was turning the pages so fast when I was so eager to find out what was going to happen! Occasionally I also felt the characters behaviour didn’t quite ring true, though this may have been deliberate from the author as we were seeing the plot from Cass’ point of view and a lot of the time she wasn’t thinking clearly and perhaps not reporting things accurately to us the reader.
Highly recommended. I’m looking forward to reading more from B. A. Paris.