I have a long list of books to read, carefully stacked in proper order. Then I get a book by Sharon Bolton. And all my plans go out the window, along with the list. Every single time.
But here comes the hard part….writing a review. If you’ve read her stuff before, you know you rarely end up where you thought you would & I’ve learned to go in with a healthy dose of paranoia. Her plots are like those puzzles with 1000 tiles…you never know which piece might change the whole picture. In fact, my tip for all her books is to go in knowing as little as possible & just enjoy the ride. So what do I share here without giving the game away? If I follow my own advice it would go something like this.
Part 1: we meet the MC in a unique setting & by 10% in, I’m on high alert.
Part 2: Change of place as we go back 9 months to get some history & meet more characters. Stuff is happening and….wait. What?!
Part 3: Ah, some pieces are starting to click into place. I got this. It’s the guy with the thing, I knew it. Oh no. No, no, no.
Part 4: Ho…lee…crap. Sorry, what I meant to say was more stuff happens, my teeth are chattering and…seriously? Followed by big finale.
Too much detail? Ok, maybe I can expand a bit without spoiling any potential WTF moments.
The story begins in South Georgia, a small island between the Falklands & Antarctica. Felicity Lloyd is a glaciologist & part of a small research team working for the British Antarctic Survey. Their isolation is broken periodically by the arrival of cruise ships during the short tourist season. And Felicity can’t wait for it to be over. Just one more ship & she’ll be safe for another year.
We quickly realize two things about her. This is a woman who’s literally gone to the end of the earth to disappear. And she’s absolutely terrified of who may step off that ship. That would be Freddie Lloyd, her husband. Unfortunately, we already know where he’s been & where he is now. When Felicity sees his name on the ship manifest, her worst fear is realized. But she prepared for this day long ago & it’s time to put her plan into action.
The story is divided into 4 sections & this first one is relatively short. But boy, does it set the tone. The remote setting, frigid weather & Felicity’s fear….all of these are so well described you can feel them in your bones. The tension is palpable & the author has served notice you’re in for an unsettling ride.
Parts 2 & 3 are set in Cambridge, beginning 9 months prior to present day. Here we get some background on Felicity’s life & the people who crossed her path before she fled. As part of the medical requirements for the position in South Georgia, she has to get signed off by a therapist as fit for the job. And so she meets Dr. Joe Grant. Joe is a mild mannered, likeable guy with some interesting history of his own.
More characters & plot lines are added in these sections. A mysterious rollergirl, a troubled homeless man, Joe’s mother Delilah & several others weave their stories into the mix. Connections between them are slowly doled out as we continue to learn more about Felicity’s past.
That’s it, folks. I’m determined to keep this spoiler-free. The stage is set for our return to South Georgia in part 4 & by the time we get there, I guarantee you’ll have more questions than answers. There are tantalizing glimpses of where the story is going. But contradictory & unreliable versions of events make you feel like you’re standing in quicksand. Nothing is predictable & you’re never sure who you can trust or believe. It’s a psychological mind bender of a read that saves some of the best twists for last. Sure, you could argue a few moments stretch credibility & conveniently propel the plot but its strength lies in the author’s ability to create scenes so atmospheric that you feel you’re walking in a character’s shoes.
If you’re in the mood for something comfy, cozy & relaxing, look elsewhere. But if you want to spend a few hours on the edge you’ve found your next read. Your reading tool kit for this book should include: whale music, a Medic-Alert button, thermal underwear & wine.