Thursday, 30 November 2017

Author catch up - Gillian McAllister

I decided it was time to catch up with Gillian McAllister's first book - Everything but the Truth - rather than just read her latest one, Anything you do Say. So here's a double review.

The books are two very different standalone psychological thrillers. Both are well written, intriguing and tense, with multilayered plots covering deep ethical and moral issues. In both cases, I found myself relating these back to me - 'What would I do?' and 'What would I say?'

Everything but the Truth is a tale of domestic noir set in our social media-driven society. Rachel is pregnant. Although she loves and trusts her boyfriend Jack, she hasn't known him that long. When she finds a seemingly suspicious email, Rachel wonders whether she knows him at all. What follows is a twisty journey into discovering more about Jack's past - and, as Rachel's obsession escalates, there are also big reveals about her own. The two of them appear to have been selective with the truth - not just with one another, but also perhaps with themselves.

In Anything you do Say, Joanne realises she's being followed after a night out at the pub. Convinced it's the man who was bothering her there, she lashes out in a panic - one of those split-second decisions that you come to regret. The man falls down some steps and lies motionless in front of her. And this is when the main story begins, as the narrative splits into two - the big 'what if'. What if Joanna runs (the 'conceal' scenario)? Or what if she stays and calls for help (the 'reveal' scenario)?

I enjoyed reading these books, with both of them making me think and question.

Everything but the Truth is a love story filled with secrets and lies - a look at honesty in a relationship and whether it's necessary to reveal everything or just hope your past doesn't catch up with you. Is it better to not know the truth about loved ones' pasts and just live in the 'here and now'? Funnily enough, I actually thought Rachel's own secret was 'worse' than Jack's.

Of the two books, Anything you do Say had the slight edge for me, probably because I often think about the 'sliding doors' scenario. The 'what ifs' of life. Whether choosing a different path would have led to a different 'now'. Both storylines in Anything you do Say worked well, with enough overlap to make them both believable but without repetition of two potentially similar narratives. I found myself racing through this novel to discover Joanne's fate/destiny.

I look forward to seeing what's next from Gillian McAllister.

About the books

Everything But The Truth
Published by Penguin (March 2017)

Publisher's description
It all started with the email.
Rachel didn't even mean to look. She loves Jack and she's pregnant with their child. She trusts him.
But now she's seen it, she can't undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.
Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn't Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost? 

Anything You Do Say
Published by Penguin (October 2017)

Publisher's description
It's the end of the night. You're walking home on your own.
Then you hear the sound every woman dreads. Footsteps. Behind you. Coming fast.
You're sure it's him - the man from the bar who wouldn't leave you alone.
You make a snap decision. You turn. You push. Your pursuer tumbles down the steps. He lies motionless, face-down on the floor.
Now What? 
Call 999
Wait for the police to arrive. For judgement, for justice, whatever that may be. You just hope you husband, family and friends, everyone you love, will stand by you.
Stay silent. You didn't mean to do it. You were scared, you panicked. And no one saw. No one will ever know. If you leave now. If you keep quiet. Forever.
Which is it to be?

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