Alex South is a high-functioning alcoholic who is teetering on the brink of oblivion. Her career as a television journalist is hanging by a thread since a drunken on-air rant. When a series of murders occur within a couple of miles of her East London home, she is given another chance to prove her skill and report the unfolding events. She thinks she can control the drinking, but soon she finds gaping holes in her memory and wakes to find she’s done things she can’t recall. As the story she’s covering starts to creep into her own life, is Alex a danger only to herself – or to others?
The pressing need to talk to DI Brook takes over. When I turn around, I spot him lingering behind the tent, so I fill my lungs with air and shout his name as loudly as I can, but to no avail. He has clearly decided not to hear me.
‘They not listening to you, love?’
An elderly woman dressed in black with silvery blue hair and a lively red setter has suddenly appeared beside me. Her face is half hidden behind what look like very expensive sunglasses. ‘Such terrible news to wake up to this morning.’
I nod silently, unsure of what to say. The last thing I need right now is a member of the public asking me silly questions. I have a job to do, and sometimes they just get in the way.
‘I’ve seen you before, haven’t I? You live around here?’
She pulls her glasses forward, resting them on the end of her nose, to reveal watery grey eyes. ‘I know you, you’re on the news. Although I haven’t seen you on for a while. Not since that…’
She stops herself. I know what she’s going to say. Not since that time you were pissed on air ranting about how the system had failed us all.
‘I’ve been busy doing research for a new investigative report I’m working on.’
‘So you got lucky today because you live around here? That it? I know how it goes, the pecking order. Worked in broadcasting when I was younger. Couldn’t take the cynicism and got out after a few years.’
‘Right.’ I really don’t need this now. It’s only midday, and my nerves are shot. She’s not going away, though.
‘I love watching the news and talking about politics. You really must come for tea. I don’t get many visitors these days. I live on Navarino. Right on the corner of the park.’
‘That’s very kind of you, but I imagine I’m going to be quite busy with this story.’
‘Of course. I didn’t mean today, silly. Number three, the red door. Just knock.’
Audrey is back, looking purposeful, her eyes willing the pensioner to move on.
‘Sorry to interrupt, but they want a two-minute hit into the lunchtime bulletin. What we know now.’
‘Goodbye then, Alex. Please make sure you come and see me.’ The woman pushes her glasses back up her nose and shuffles off with her dog.
‘Who was that?’ Audrey nods towards her. ‘A neighbourhood pal?’
‘Just a dog walker.’
‘Not the dog walker?’
‘Oh. Okay. So, the report?’
‘It’s fine. Have you spoken to the police? I can’t seem to attract their attention.’
‘Managed to grab DI Brook at the press conference earlier, but only to get his business card.’ She hands it to me. DI John Brook, Serious Crime Division. There’s a mobile number on it. I already have it in my phone from dealing with him on previous cases, but I decide not to mention it. Best to let Audrey think she’s on it, which she is. In fact, I don’t know why I didn’t just call him before, rather than shout at him like a complete loser. I’m embarrassed to say my memory fails me more often than not, especially after a big night out.
‘Thanks, Audrey, you’re a star.’
‘No worries. I don’t think he’s going to talk to the media again today – at least that’s what he said – but give him a call. I did mention you might.’
‘It’ll be the first live report from the scene for us, so the editors say just keep it simple. They’re leading on it.’
‘I have done this before, Audrey.’
‘Yes, of course, sorry.’
She looks a bit hurt by my reaction, which happens when I’m not fully in my right mind. Greg used to get on me for that all the time. Snapping at people. I should say something nice.
‘Sorry. Didn’t mean to sound short with you. It’s my first live for a while, and I suppose I’m a little nervous.’
‘You’ll knock ‘em dead, Alex. You’re great at this job.’
‘That’s very kind. Thank you.’
‘We all have bad days. We’re only human after all.’
She is being very sweet and understanding. Buttering me up. That’s nice even if she doesn’t mean it because it’s exactly what I need today.
‘Thanks, Audrey, but today is going to be a good day.’
With the business card in my hand, I put my headphones on and pull up DI Brook’s number from my contact list, then hit dial. While it’s ringing, I check my Facebook page. Two thousand and fifty-three people have wished me happy birthday. Wow. I guess many people feel like Audrey does, ready to give me a second chance. I mean, it wasn’t so bad what I did, bitching about the government live on air. There were a lot of people who wrote to me afterwards saying well done for speaking honestly. Didn’t help me with the editors, though. Anyway, that’s behind me now.
DI Brook isn’t answering, and I hang up. Just then my phone buzzes. It’s a message from Richie, the chap I’m planning to meet later. I met him on a dating site, just like I met Nigel.
Hey, sorry to do this to you, Alex, but something’s come up at work. Afraid I can’t make it tonight. Can we reschedule?
It’s annoying, but I don’t bother to respond; there’s really no point. That’s how online dates go sometimes. They don’t always materialise, and if I’m honest, I can’t be bothered anyway, not now that I have a huge breaking news story to contend with. This is much more important.
A suspenseful plot, an authentic setting and an unreliable protagonist guarantee that I would read ‘I Never Lie’ and it didn’t disappoint.
Fast-paced it moves between Alex a TV journalist’s point of view and diary entries of a recovering alcoholic whose dark issues become apparent as the story unfolds.
Alex, a London based TV journalist, is on the precipice of career success. She moves to London to further her career but also because personal life implodes, and now threatens to impinge on her career.
Alex is an alcoholic in denial, and it makes her vulnerable in all area of her life. Someone is murdering women in London, and Alex’s involvement seems serendipitous but is she in danger?
Alex is challenging, her constant denial of her alcoholism is tedious but authentic and an essential catalyst to the thriller’s plot. The plot is well- executed with twists, some of which you may not see coming. I enjoyed trying to work out what is real and what is part of Alex’s alcohol delusional state.
The final twist is a little disappointing for me; I imagined something different. However, full of suspense it does answer the questions raised by the plot.
Written by a TV journalist, the setting is authentic and absorbing and makes the perfect backdrop both for the murders and Alex life’s disintegration.
Originality, cleverly built suspense and realistic characters are evident in this thriller, even if using an alcoholic as an unreliable protagonist is popular in many psychological thrillers currently.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Jody Sabral is based between the South Coast and London, where she works as a Foreign Desk editor and video producer at the BBC. She is a graduate of the MA in Crime Fiction at City University, London. Jody worked as a journalist in Turkey for ten years, covering the region for various international broadcasters. She self-published her first book Changing Borders in 2012 and won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2014 for her second novel The Movement. In addition to working for the BBC, Jody also writes for the Huffington Post, Al–Monitor and Brics Post.
Author, blogger and book reviewer.
I am the author of 'The Dragon Legacy' series and 'The Dangerous Gift'.
Animal welfare supporter. Loves reading, writing, countryside walks, cookery and gardening,
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