Originally published: 21st March 2019
Author: Annie Ward
Published by: Quercus Books
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Length: 368 pages
Reading dates: 15-19 March 2019
Maddie and Ian’s romance begins when she is an English language teacher and travel writer living in Bulgaria and she is visiting her best friend Jo who is a rescue aid worker in the volatile Balkan region and he is serving in the British Army in the early 2000s. 16 years later they are married with a son Charlie and living the perfect suburban life in Kansas, near Maddie’s parents.
But after a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred and full of anxiety, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD, her concerns for the safety of their young son and the couple’s tangled past with her best friend Jo, whom she hasn’t had contact with for many years.
The book begins with a chapter entitled “The Day of the Killing” when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime. From there the book follows multiple timelines as we gradually find out more about Maddie and Ian. From the Balkans to England, Iraq to New York this is truly a read on a global scale!
Told mostly from Maddie’s point of view (but occasionally hearing from Ian and Police Officer Diane Varga who is first on the scene after the 911 call) she comes across as vulnerable and damaged – the list she makes in her first therapy session of things that scare her shows the anxiety she feels:
- When Charlie cries
- Hospitals and lakes
- When Ian gets angry
- Guns in the house
I liked the idea of using her trips to the therapist as a clever way of revealing what has happened previously. Despite what people see looking in, we certainly get the impression that this is not necessarily a happy marriage. Ian suffers from PTSD and drinks heavily and is very controlling of Maddie. She can’t entirely remember what happened that caused her to fall while camping – was it really an accident or did Ian hurt her?
I had two small gripes: We are repeatedly told that Maddie and Jo are best friends but there were frequent points when I thought the way they treated each other, just didn’t seem to be the way good friends behave. The other gripe is that I didn’t really feel the big love story between Ian and Maddie. There seems to be a strange obsession between the two of them but despite Ian letting her down on more than one occasion and Jo warning her that he is not a nice man, Maddie still wants to be with him. I get that they are both damaged characters but maybe we needed a bit more sexual tension or something! But I can overlook these small plot points as the tension is nicely done. Knowing from the beginning that a terrible crime has occurred but not knowing who is the victim is a great way to start a book. Revisiting the crime scene throughout is a great way to keep the tension levels up. Well researched, I thought this was a gripping story and of course, it has several great twists, none of which I saw coming.
Many thanks to Ella at Quercus Books for sending me an ARC and for inviting me on the blog tour. Be sure to checkout the other stops below…
About the author:
Annie received a BA in English Lit with an emphasis in Creative Writing from UCLA and an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute.
After film school, Annie moved to Eastern Europe to work for Fodor Travel Guides, covering regions of Spain and Bulgaria. She remained in Bulgaria for five years spanning a civilian uprising and government overthrow. The novel THE MAKING OF JUNE, which Annie wrote with the Bulgarian revolution and Balkan crisis as its backdrop was sold to Penguin Putnam and published to critical acclaim in 2002.
During Annie’s five years in the Balkans she received a Fulbright Scholarship, taught at the University of Sofia, and script doctored eight screenplays for Nu-Image, an Israeli/American film company that produced a number of projects in Bulgaria for the SyFy Channel. She was later the recipient of an Escape to Create artist residency.
She lives in Kansas City, Kansas with her family.