By SJI Holliday
Published by Black & White Publishing (Kindle edition - 24 February 2015; Paperback - 19 March 2015)
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 an assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendships and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?
Black Wood is set in a small sleepy village not far from Edinburgh. This is an ideal setting for a psychological thriller with dark secrets at its root. SJI Holliday has captured village life beautifully, with astute observations of the village inhabitants and graphic descriptions of the local surroundings. Everyone wants to know each other's business, especially the town busybody, yet the villagers still have secrets to hide. Strangers get noticed and treated with suspicion, but they are not always the ones to watch.
The story centres around what happened to Jo and Claire in Black Wood all those years ago. A vicious attack by two boys left both of their lives in tatters. Jo is a complex character, shaped by both her childhood and the events on that fateful day - she is confused, distrustful and psychologically damaged. Claire was left paralysed, but tries desperately to get on with her life. She is unable to remember what happened in Black Wood and prefers to leave it that way.
SJI Holliday has written an atmospheric thriller with intriguing characters. She cleverly weaves past and present together to gradually expose chilling secrets. This is a well-written tale of discovery, revenge and deception. Various twists and turns lead the reader off track, resulting in stunning revelations at the end.
SJI Holliday is one to watch - this is an excellent debut.
I received this from the publisher as an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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