Originally published: 27 June 2019 (Paperback 9 January 2020)
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Published by: Headline
Length: 480 pages
Reading dates: 5-10 January 2020
Pieta is a journalist for a Brighton based magazine and lives in Hove with her son Kody. From the beginning of the book we know something dreadful happened to her and before long we find out that 10 years previously, she had been kidnapped by a man who has become known as The Blindfolder. Told she would survive the ordeal if she kept her eyes shut for the whole 48 hours, she was assaulted and tortured but kept her end of the bargain and was released, vowing to put it behind her and get on with her life, never telling anyone what happened to her.
Detective Jody Foster has been working on the case of The Blindfolder for the last 15 years after a catastrophic mistake enabled him to escape justice. After disappearing for several years, he now seems to be back, killing the women who escaped from him the first time and dumping their bodies in parks around Brighton. When a new victim comes forward, determined to tell her story to the world, to help protect the other surviving women, Pieta is tasked with interviewing her and she finds she can’t continue to hide from what happened to her.
Told in the present day, The Blindfolder is dumping a new victim every 6 weeks so the police are in a race against time to stop him before he kills again. With flashbacks to both Pieta’s ordeal and also the events that led Jody to being so heavily involved in the case, this is a tense read.
Quite a long book (around 100 pages more than the crime thrillers I usually tend to read), at no point did I feel it dragged or that any of the story was unnecessary. What I found really interesting was the way the story looked at the perception of victims. All the victims of The Blindfolder are black women and Koomson is keen to look at who is believed when it comes to being a “perfect” victim. Unfortunately, a young black woman is not a believable victim. We hear how Detective Jody Foster herself is doubtful of a victim who is young, black and has been involved in drug use in the past, despite actually being black herself. Does it matter if a victim is dressed a certain way or has drink or drugs in their lives? Should this make them less believable? Of course not, but unfortunately, this is invariably the case and crimes go unreported because these women know that they are likely to be disbelieved.
I loved the Brighton setting as I’m local to the area so recognised a lot of the places the author refers to. I think Koomson is a great crime writer and is perfect for those who maybe find other crime books a bit too gritty. She is good at softening the crimes a little – although rape and torture are mentioned in this book, at no point do we live through the details of the pain and torture the victims felt – it is left mostly to the imagination. It did make me wonder if I would be able to keep my eyes shut for 48 hours if my life depended on it!
I was lucky enough to hear Koomson is conversation at Brighton Waterstones about this book when it was published last year. Having read quite a few of her books over the years, it was great to meet her and listen to her talk!
Many thanks to Emma at ed public relations for my gifted paperback copy.
About the author:
Koomson has two degrees in Psychology and Journalism when she graduated from Leeds University. She has written for a number of women’s magazines and newspapers, as well as having had seven successful novels published in the UK and US. Koomson spent two years living in Sydney and is currently living in Brighton. Tell Me Your Secret is her 15th novel.