Publication Date: Available now from Black and White Publishing.
Source: Publisher Review Copy
Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story. Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?
So any fan of the psychological thriller definitely needs to be getting their hands on this one – I was lucky enough to read it extremely early, even then I knew it was going to be a great addition to the crime fiction genre, since then I have read the finished version and turns out I was right. Brilliant.
What I found was a character driven story with a very haunting and expressive feel that pulled me in immediately. Jo is an intriguing character, dealing with some difficult issues stemming from a childhood trauma – but with no-one to believe her and a memory that is flaky, she feels very alone and that comes out in the way she interacts with those close to her. Not always sympathetic as a character but ever fascinating, the mystery of what happened to her and Claire all those years ago is compelling and addictive. I can’t say I liked her particularly, but one of the strengths of the story is in the fact that you feel for her anyway.
The book is an exploration of memory and emotion, how things from before can affect the after and is all the more powerful for it. There is a great depth to the psychology and feeling of it, with some authentic twists and turns to keep you off kilter, beautifully paced, it is one of those novels you sink into completely and have to shake off when you emerge back into real life.
The tale has a very “noir” feel, atmospheric and often very haunting, the heart of this is to be found in the people that pepper the pages and the background they are from – at times scarily claustrophobic, especially when delving into Jo’s head and heart, it will engage you and disturb you, surprise you and intrigue you.
It really is deliciously written, capturing the essence of village life perfectly and delivering an eclectic cast of characters, an appealing and exquisitely drawn enigma both in character and plot and overall would defnitely come highly recommended from me. Oh and beautiful job on the cover – captures the whole thing perfectly right there.
Find out more here: http://sjiholliday.com/
Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SJIHolliday
Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/black-wood/sji-holliday/9781845029531
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