Claire lives with her family in a beautiful house overlooking the water. But she feels as if she’s married to a stranger – one who is leading a double life. As soon as she can get their son Joe away from him, she’s determined to leave Duncan.
But finding out the truth about Duncan’s secret life leads to consequences Claire never planned for. Now Joe is missing, and she’s struggling to piece together the events of the night that tore them all apart.
Alone in an isolated cottage, hiding from Duncan, Claire tries to unravel the lies they’ve told each other, and themselves. Something happened to her family … But can she face the truth?
A dark mystery with a twist
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I finished reading this story feeling incredibly sad, the ending is haunting, full of loss and wasted opportunity, and what if…
This story begins like the domestic thriller, I thought it would be, but it is essentially a suspenseful family drama. Claire’s home life is materially perfect, but under the surface, it is a maelstrom of claustrophobia, discontent and simmering hatred. She wants to escape, from her house’s emotionless perfection, and her empty marriage.
The story is told from Claire’s point of view, before and after Joe’s disappearance; her story is full of resentment, and as it is in the first person, intensely personal. Duncan’s point of view is after Joe’s disappearance, except for one later chapter. This is told in the third person, so his point of view is more objectively portrayed.
This is a family drama, interwoven with strange occurrences that echo what Claire is experiencing. She is an unreliable protagonist, tortured by a past secret, which has dominated her future life. Duncan is essentially an unlikeable character, abusive, and a serial philanderer. It is only when the reasons for this emerge that his behaviour becomes easier to understand. Joe their son is autistic, and he finds the coldness of his parent’s marriage hard to cope with, choosing solitude and the company of his dog in preference to theirs.
This is an unhappy, but believable story. The pace, for the most part, is slow, and the events ordinary and repetitive, because it portrays their life. The twists when revealed have more impact because of this.
The setting is atmospheric and described in detail. The folklore surrounding Claire and Duncan’s home provides an interesting strand of the story, and Claire is haunted by it, in her precarious emotional state.
Guilt and secrets underpin this drama, which is suspenseful, but not in the way you may expect. The ending is well-written and devastating. It draws all the plot threads, and the main characters together in a heartbreakingly tragic way, that resonates.
Poignant family drama, with a suspenseful thread, that explodes into an unexpectedly powerful conclusion.