What Alice Knew
By T.A. Cotterell
Published by Black Swan (E-book - 1 December 2016; Paperback - 20 April 2017)
Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.
Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?
Sometimes it’s better not to know.
What Alice Knew isn't an easy book to review without giving away any spoilers. There is a crime involved - but you know who the culprit is from very early on and the story focuses on the aftermath instead. It's very much a character-led novel.
This psychological thriller presents Alice (the protagonist) and the reader with a moral dilemma. How far would you go to protect your family? And what would you do if you knew a secret that could tear your family apart? It's written in a stunning literary style, with vivid descriptions and tense narrative. It certainly makes the reader think carefully about each character and whether they can be trusted. The author has done a great job of blurring the lines between right and wrong and showing that not all moral dilemmas are as black and white as they initially seem.
I have to admit that I didn't particularly like Alice, or some of her views, so I found it difficult to empathise with her dilemma. But some of the best books are filled with characters you're meant to hate. There's a strong emphasis on history of art (as Alice is a portrait painter) and the author clearly knows his stuff, writing with a passion. I did find this slowed down the plot at times, yet I remained intrigued right until the end.
And as for that ending... it wasn't what I expected at all. It's quite ambiguous, and I'm sure it will prompt many reading group discussions. In fact, the whole book was not what I was expecting when I sat down to read. I thought it would be a standard psychological thriller about a woman who is trying to save her marriage. Yet What Alice Knew is much darker and more twisted than that - and is certainly a book that makes you think.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.
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