The last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden.
Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation.
While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart.
But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.
When Lydia finds her husband in a car with an almost dead prostitute you might expect she would be frightened, scared, angry. You might think that she would do something, anything, to save the girl. You probably wouldn’t expect her to finish the job he started, killing the girl and then getting her husband to bury her in the back garden of their family home. I am not one for spoilers and, as this happens in the first few pages of the book, I don’t think it’s one. It does though set you up for a really cracking read, one that doesn’t let you go from the first page.
Told from three different perspectives and over three different periods of time, this is a really clever piece of writing. It starts with Linda and that fateful night. You pretty soon realise that she is stronger than her husband, who loves her too much to say no, but also not quite right. She has to have things her way and doesn’t seem to have any real idea that that way might be the wrong one. As a character, she is manipulative, deceitful and wicked – I can’t think of another way to describe her behaviour and her impact on those around her.
Next is Karen, the dead girl’s sister. Karen is convinced something has happened to her sister and determined not to see the bad in her. She can’t believe Annie would abandon her family and won’t believe she is the drug-addicted prostitute that the press make her out to be. Missing her sister is her driving force and shapes her life and her decisions. As a character she is a strong woman but she doesn’t always make the best choices. I liked her and found myself willing her to figure things out, for her and her families sake.
Then there is Laurence, Lydia’s teenage son, who figures out what he thinks is the truth but is unable to tell anyone. This secret and his relationship with his overpowering mother shapes his life and, like Karen, his decisions (neither are very good at making them if I’m honest). It also draws him closer than he should ever come to Karen and her family, putting his own at risk. As a character, I struggled most with Laurence. I don’t know how he could have ended up any other way given he had Lydia as a mother but I did find myself wanting him to be stronger, braver, more honest with Karen.
All three were so well drawn I was completely drawn into the story, which was also very well written, painting a picture of Ireland during the 1980s that feels a world away from my own (with every day sexism, no divorce and social status still meaning so much). I felt I was there but was glad I wasn’t. Not that I knew where I was all the time with the twists the book took and the way it slowly released the truth and revealed Lydia’s long hidden secrets.
Last week I commented about how I had seen the endings coming in books I’d read and how in one case this put me off the book. There was nothing like that here. I didn’t see the ending coming at all and it was a great one. Much better than the one I had in my head and much more twisted. Avoiding spoilers, I’ll say no more other than I loved this book – highly recommended.
Note: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.