This brilliant début novel by UK author Debbie Howells gripped me from the beginning. It’s a psychological thriller that examines, in depth, the dark side that lurks in idyllic villages behind the everyday façade of normality. It’s all about people who live in nice houses in good neighbourhoods and have seemingly perfect jobs, marriages, children, etc.
Rosie Anderson, aged 18, vanishes and is found dead in the woods. Her mother and father are distraught. Their marriage fits into the perfect bracket. She’s a wife who keeps describing her husband as “an amazing man” — once too often.
Kate is a friend of the family and, as the story progresses, she turns amateur sleuth bent on solving the mystery of Rosie’s murder. She also becomes Rosie’s mother’s main confidante and prop.
The story is told mostly from Kate’s viewpoint. Then secondly from the viewpoint of Rosie, telling from beyond the grave the story of her less than happy life with her parents, so that slowly we see the unraveling of what on the surface seemed perfection.
This novel is excellently crafted and deeply disturbing, with its characters drawn in fine detail.
A highly recommended read.