Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from. But I know exactly who you are. I know what you’ve done. And I am watching you.
When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
What a fabulously chilling ending this story has, I thought I’d worked it out but I didn’t see that coming.
‘I Know Who You Are’ is told from Aimee’s point of view, in the present day, with flashbacks thirty years previously to her childhood. The story is menacing and you experience everything Aimee feels.
Aimee is an unreliable protagonist because of the trauma she suffered in her past life, but she is easy to empathise, and I believed in her throughout the twists and turns of the story.
Abuse and control are the major themes of this story and shape Aimee into the person she is, preferring to act and assume a character rather than face the reality of her life.
Putting aside the suspense, mystery and plot twists, which are well-written, and have a powerful impact, there is also an ethos of sadness, loss and powerlessness that defines Aimee, and her story. It is this that resonates and makes her story believable.
Extract from: ‘I Know Who you Are’ – Alice Feeney
I’m that girl you think you know, but you can’t remember where
Lying is what I do for a living. It’s what I’m best at becoming
somebody else. The eyes are the only part of me I still recognise
in the mirror, staring out beneath the made-up face of a made-up
person. Another character, another story, another lie. I look away,
ready to leave her behind for the night, stopping briefly to stare at
what is written on the dressing-room door:
My name, not his. I never changed it.
Perhaps because, deep down, I always knew that our marriage
would only last until life did us part. I remind myself that my name
only defines me if I allow it to. It is merely a collection of letters,
arranged in a certain order; little more than a parent’s wish, a label, a
lie. Sometimes I long to rearrange those letters into something else.
Someone else. A new name for a new me. The me I became when
nobody else was looking.
Knowing a person’s name is not the same as knowing a person.
I think we broke us last night.
Sometimes it’s the people who love us the most that hurt us the
hardest, because they can.
He hurt me.
We’ve made a bad habit of hurting each other; things have to be
broken in order to fix them.
I hurt him back.
I check that I’ve remembered to put my latest book in my bag,
the way other people check for a purse or keys. Time is precious,
never spare, and I kill mine by reading on set between filming. Ever
since I was a child, I have preferred to inhabit the fictional lives of
others, hiding in stories that have happier endings than my own;
we are what we read. When I’m sure I haven’t forgotten anything,
I walk away, back to who and what and where I came from.
Something very bad happened last night.
I’ve tried so hard to pretend that it didn’t, struggled to rearrange
the memories, but I can still hear his hate-filled words, still, feel his
hands around my neck, and still see the expression I’ve never seen
his face wear before.
I can still fix this. I can fix us.
The lies we tell ourselves are always the most dangerous.
It was a fight, that’s all. Everybody who has ever loved has also
I walk down the familiar corridors of Pinewood Studios, leaving
my dressing room, but not my thoughts or fears too far behind.
My steps seem slow and uncertain, as though they are deliberately
delaying the act of going home; afraid of what will be waiting there.
I did love him, I still do.
I think it’s important to remember that. We weren’t always the
version of us that we became. Life remodels relationships like these reshapes the sand; eroding dunes of love, building banks of hate.
Last night, I told him it was over. I told him I wanted a divorce and
I told him that I meant it this time.
I didn’t. Mean it.
I climb into my Range Rover and drive towards the iconic studio
gates, steering towards the inevitable. I fold in on myself a little,
hiding the corners of me I’d rather others didn’t see, bending my
sharp edges out of view. The man in the booth at the exit waves,
his face dressed in kindness. I force my face to smile back, before
For me, acting has never been about attracting attention or
wanting to be seen. I do what I do because I don’t know how to do
anything else, and because it’s the only thing that makes me feel
happy. The shy actress is an oxymoron in most people’s dictionaries,
but that is who and what I am. Not everybody wants to be somebody.
Some people just want to be somebody else. Acting is easy, it’s being
me that I find difficult. I throw up before almost every interview
and event. I get physically ill and am crippled with nerves when I
have to meet people as myself. But when I step out onto a stage,
or in front of a camera as somebody different, it feels like I can fly.
Nobody understands who I really am, except him.
My husband fell in love with the version of me I was before. My
success is relatively recent, and my dreams coming true signalled
the start of his nightmares. He tried to be supportive at first, but I
was never something he wanted to share. That said, each time my
anxiety tore me apart, he stitched me back together again. Which
was kind, if also self-serving. In order to get satisfaction from fixing
something, you either have to leave it broken for a while first, or
break it again yourself.
I drive slowly along the fast London streets, silently rehearsing
for real life, catching unwelcome glimpses of my made-up self in
the mirror. The thirty-six-year-old woman I see looks angry about
being forced to wear a disguise. I am not beautiful, but I’m told
I have an interesting face. My eyes are too big for the rest of my
features, as though all the things they have seen made them swell
out of proportion. My long dark hair has been straightened by expert
fingers, not my own, and I’m thin now, because the part I’m playing
requires me to be so, and because I frequently forget to eat. I forget
to eat because a journalist once called me ‘plump but pretty.’ I can’t
remember what she said about my performance.
It was a review of my first film role last year. A part that changed
my life, and my husband’s, forever. It certainly changed our bank
balance, but our love was already overdrawn. He resented my newfound
success – it took me away from him – and I think he needed
to make me feel small in order to make himself feel big again. I’m
not who he married. I’m more than her now, and I think he wanted
less. He’s a journalist, successful in his own right, but it’s not the
same. He thought he was losing me, so he started to hold on too
tight, so tight that it hurt.
I think part of me liked it.
I park on the street and allow my feet to lead me up the garden
path. I bought the Notting Hill townhouse because I thought it
might fix us while we continued to remortgage our marriage. But
money is a band-aid, not a cure for broken hearts and promises. I’ve
never felt so trapped by my own wrong turns. I built my prison in
the way that people often do, with solid walls made from bricks of
guilt and obligation. Walls that seemed to have no doors, but the
way out was always there. I just couldn’t see it.
I let myself in, turning on the lights in each of the cold, dark,
‘Ben,’ I call, taking off my coat.
Even the sound of my voice calling his name sounds wrong,
‘I’m home,’ I say to another empty space. It feels like a lie to
describe this as my home; it has never felt like one. A bird never
chooses its own cage.
When I can’t find my husband downstairs, I head up to our
bedroom, every step heavy with dread and doubt. The memories of
the night before are a little too loud now that I’m back on the set of
our lives. I call his name again, but he still doesn’t reply. When I’ve
checked every room, I return to the kitchen, noticing the elaborate
bouquet of flowers on the table for the first time. I read the small
card attached to them; there’s just one word:
Sorry is easier to say than it is to feel. Even easier to write.
I want to rub out what happened to us and go back to the beginning.
I want to forget what he did to me and what he made me do. I
want to start again, but time is something we ran out of long before
we started running from each other. Perhaps if he’d let me have the
children I so badly wanted to love, things might have been different.
I retrace my steps back to the lounge and stare at Ben’s things on
the coffee table: his wallet, keys and phone. He never goes anywhere
without his phone. I pick it up, carefully, as though it might either
explode or disintegrate in my fingers. The screen comes to life and
reveals a missed call from a number I don’t recognise. I want to see
more, but when I press the button again the phone demands Ben’s
passcode. I try and fail to guess several times until it locks me out
I search the house again, but he isn’t here. He isn’t hiding. This
isn’t a game.
Back out in the hall, I notice that the coat he always wears is where
he left it, and his shoes are still by the front door. I call his name one
last time, so loud that the neighbours on the other side of the wall
must hear me, but there’s still no answer. Maybe he just popped out.
Without his wallet, phone, keys, coat or shoes?
Denial is the most destructive form of self-harm.
A series of words whisper themselves repeatedly inside my ears:
Vanished. Fled. Departed. Left. Missing. Disappeared.
Then the carousel of words stops spinning, finally settling on the
one that fits best. Short and simple, it slots into place, like a piece of
a puzzle I didn’t know I’d have to solve.
My husband is gone.