If one had to sum up this chilling tale of psychological suspense, I would use the word uncomfortable.
With a new name and an ankle monitor, Charlotte, the adult, is released back into the world. Try as she might, she can’t forget prison or the fearful interrogation for supposed past deeds which put her there as a child. She and her only friend, Sean, were found guilty of murdering a disabled child, but much as she would like to forget what transpired afterwards, she cannot remember what actually happened. The police suspected the weird Mr Sampson for awhile, for who would think two young children could be capable of such a heartless act? Then, despite her denials, her fingerprints were found on the toy the boy dropped. And the lies begat more lies…
The public is outraged when it is discovered that, on release from prison, the taxpayers’ money is squandered on new identities and relocation, not to speak of the lady psychologist, Dr Isherwood, who plays a part in the story far beyond the call of duty.
Sean’s story of then and now also segments her story, then and now. Neither are endearing persons which robs the reader of empathy, although Sean’s battle between his prison-built anger and a remnant of decency make his character an interesting contrast to Charlotte’s timid loneliness.
Certainly, the curiosity about the final denouement will keep some readers ploughing on to the final twist, but I fear others might succumb to frustration and give up. However, the writing is excellent and the depth of the characters is well plumbed.
My thanks to Penguin Random House, South Africa for this Century Imprint ARC.