A marine biologist specialising in seahorses, Tina is returning for her brother's wedding to the Fenland village where she grew up. A moment of panic about her 10-year-old daughter triggers a vision of her best friend, Mandy Baker, who went missing without a trace at the same age three decades ago. And the more Tina replays events and relives her tempestuous upbringing, the more she believes she knows what happened to Mandy - and who was responsible.
Jill Dawson's affecting novel is an incisive and disturbing exploration of desire and childhood.
©2006 Jill Dawson; (P)2006 Isis Publishing Ltd
"Inspired by the Soham murders, this is one of the most perceptive novels you'll read on adolescent girls and the effect their budding sexuality has on themselves and men around them." (Marie Claire)
"Slow-burning, spine-crawling....It is a compelling, haunting, and intelligent read." (Daily Telegraph)
"An outstanding novel....Intense, intelligent, and compelling." (Daily Mail)
If you like stream-of-consciousness writing, lots of flashbacks, and regional accents, then this book is for you.
I found the pace annoyingly slow and the minute-by-minute reporting of details just too cluttered for my tastes. I preferred the present day Tina to the flashback Tina and found myself saying "oh no not this again" and fast-forwarding every time the author returned to Tina's childhood. Although from a subjective point of view I didn't really "like" this book, I thought it was well-written and intelligently read.
The reader was wonderful. The character descriptions were "spot on". A mystery was laid out before you in such a way to keep you enthralled although you knew in your mind "who done it." I don't know what I expected, but was on a six hour car drive so I listened until the bitter end. It held my attention, but creeped me out as no other book on this subject has. I locked and relocked my car doors and promised that I would revisit with vigor the parent's worst nightmare for their children -- that it doesn't always have to be a stranger who puts you in danger. I rehearsed how to tell my children to trust their intuitions and to high tail it out of wherever they may be if they get a funny feeling about an adult even if he is a father of a best friend, a long time neighbor or a beloved member of their community. Better safe than sorry....
One reviewer called this spine-crawling, but it gave me the creeps. I wanted a mystery, but the book had 1 physical "clue", hours of rambling memories/imaginings, and too much icky sex. The extent of the narrator's reliability is never fully determined and for me that really detracted from the whole story. I found it a very unenjoyable listen overall.
"slow to start, but compelling by midway"
I found this book a slow starter, but by the end of the first part I was hooked. The time slips between past and present, ably assisted by the accent of the reader, as Tina gradually considers her past and the fate of Mandy.
Disturbing in some ways, this is a fascinating account of a family meeting as adults, and the memories that can be stirred up of childhood.
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