Length: 354 pages
Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book
What they say: When Lauren takes a photo of a stranger on a beach and shares it online, she has no idea what will come of that single click.
Her daughters are surprised that she posted a photo without consent, but it’s only when she starts to get anonymous messages about the woman on the beach that she deletes the photo. It’s too little too late, and the messages escalate, prompting Lauren to confess to the woman. The woman has her own dark story, one that might explain the messages, but Lauren isn’t convinced. Then her ex-husband begins to harass her, telling her she shares too much online and brought this on herself.
She’s also dealing with other problems. A difficult client at work starts to show up in places he shouldn’t be. Her younger daughter is behaving out of character and Lauren can’t work out what’s wrong. And the cracks are literally beginning to show in her old South Dublin house, mirroring the cracks in her carefully curated life.
Meanwhile, the messages from the internet troll become more personal and more vindictive. Her friends feel she should stand up to her stalker, but Lauren isn’t so sure. And then she makes one small mistake that brings everything tumbling down.
The Review: You’ll remember that I gushed about the amazing The Other Side of The Wall (seriously, read the book! Review here) from the creator of the brilliant Office Mum blog (here) . In fact I’m pretty sure that it was my most recommended read that year. I loved the creepiness of it and the ending that was a lesson in how to grip! And here we have it again, a book that I really enjoyed with a twist I didn’t see or perhaps I did but I discounted it and had moved on by the time the explosive ending had come about. But sorry, as usual, I’m running on.
We begin with imagery that is impeccable, and puts us right there enjoying the holiday with Lauren and her daughters. Our lead, Lauren, is on a beach and sees a woman that is the definition of relaxed and it makes her think back to how she spent her time before the daily grind became a grind. So she starts a hashtag and shares the photo.
I love that it was her teenage daughter that called her out on it and Lauren trying to backtrack and justify something she warns her children about. It was hilarious that I jumped straight into their holiday, enjoying the vividness of all of it and then, as I often do with thrillers, suddenly remembered (and noted on my Kindle) ‘crap, this is going to get bad.’
There was so much I loved from the start-the ease of the interaction with the lead and her daughters, the background to her work as a single parent psychologist, and soon all was muddied by tweets by an unknown wanting to know who the girl in the photo was. Saying that I have to admit as much as I enjoyed the first half for the everyday, when I got to the jumps and the scares I realised I could have done with just a few more, and a teeny tiny bit less about the morality of use of social media, although that is supposed to be the talking point of the book so I’m probably in the minority on this.
Speaking of the thriller aspect to the book, it’s funny that I decide what way I want a book to go and so I was very excited when we came across the girl a second time, as suddenly, as I’d prayed for (YES!), we’ve got her pov too!
There’s a series of unpalatables in the book, giving us some choices as to who the person who is now openly stalking Lauren, not only online but in real life too, and I was all over the place trying to figure out our culprit. We were led around and about every garden path and I savoured it, adoring the unease created (at one stage there’s a home alone scenario that had my eyes wide and my heart actually thumping as I was reading at one o clock in the morning in the silence of our own home!) and gobbled up the latter part of the book, in particular a conclusion that was right up my street. Beyond enjoyable, and a book that has (if she hadn’t been already as I do know her from IWI) most definitely cemented Ms. Mara as an author I will continue to read and shout about.