This is a really frightening book, I’d say more horror than mystery. So beware if you are easily frightening and a wimp (like me). But if you are made of sterner stuff it is a pretty good read.
The main character is Clarissa, a woman definitely down on her luck. Her husband has left her after years of unsuccessful fertility treatment, her career has stalled and she hasn’t really got any friends…and now she has found herself pursued by a scary stalker! Her life is so rotten that she greets a jury service letter as a source of salvation, being on jury service will get her temporarily away from her stalker and her crappy job and she might even make some new friends. But I am afraid her high hopes lead only to disappointment.
The villain of the piece is Rafe. He works with Clarissa at the University of Bath and probably drugged and raped her after a party. I say ‘probably’ as we only have it from Clarissa’s point of view and she doesn’t remember exactly what happened, he gave her a strange tasting glass of wine and she awoke the next morning naked in bed with him feeling sore and bruised. She is confused and disoriented and doesn’t report it. From this point on he acts like they have begun a relationship after a night of consensual sex. He pesters her and sends her creepy presents and when she yells at him to leave her alone behaves as if they are having a harmless lover’s tiff.
At times you feel quite frustrated with Clarissa. Why didn’t she report the rape to the police? Why isn’t she taking this more seriously? But at other times you feel sympathy. She is a very vulnerable woman, possibly quite depressed, and she has confused and complicated emotions about what happened to her that night as many rape victims do. Also Rafe is very convincing to the outside world, he is charming and successful at work and even convinces Clarissa’s oldest friend that he and Clarissa have been having a relationship and that he is nothing more than a caring and concerned boyfriend to the mentally disturbed Clarissa. So Clarissa comes up with a plan, she will systematically collect and record evidence until she has enough to present the police with a strong case against Rafe.
The trial Clarissa is a juror for, far from being an escape, is a rape case that brings up painful memories of her own experiences and fears. At the same time, outside the relative safety of the court, Rafe’s behaviour becomes increasingly menacing. Will she gathered enough evidence to see him convicted and out of her life or has she underestimated the danger she is in? Read this book to find out…if you dare!
A bit too violent and scary for my tastes.