by Helen Callaghan
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publishing Date: 16th June 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher thank you!.
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Thriller, Mystery
FIRST CLASS PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE FROM A MAJOR NEW VOICE IN FICTION
Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Enquirer. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all kinds of letters – but none like the one she’s just received:
I don’t know where I am. I’ve been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I’m afraid he’ll kill me.
Please help me soon,
Bethan Avery has been missing for years. This is surely some cruel hoax. But, as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything . . .
„Dear Amy” belonged from the very beginning, as soon as I’ve heard about this book, to one of my most anticipated reads this year. I mean, just hear this: Margot, a schoolteacher, who’s working also as an agony aunt for a local newspaper, receives a handwritten letter:
Please please PLEASE help me! I have been kidnapped by a strange man and he’s holding me prisoner in this cellar. He says I can never go home. I don’t know where I am or what to do and nobody knows I’m here.
I don’t even know how long I’ve been gone, but it seems like forever. I’m afraid that people will stop looking for me. I’m afraid he’ll kill me.
Please help me soon,
Lately I am finding myself really appreciating psychological thrillers and yes, I am aware that there are „psychological thrillers” and psychological thrillers, what with the genre being so popular lately, but this sounded just right up my street and almost as soon as my beautiful review copy, wrapped in a brown paper and with two letters from the book under the string tied around the book, arrived I started to read it.
The book starts with a kick and ends with a kick, and in between we receive a very twisty, surprising novel, in fact, one of the most turny novels that I’ve read in a long time, and I was never certain if the letters are real or if it is a kind of a sick joke. Yes, sometimes it sounded almost impossible, I mean, how a girl, kidnapped long time ago, can send letters at all, not knowing where she is? (I think it was my main problem with the book. I mean, the book doesn’t have to be realistic, it’s fiction, but there are still elements that must work. And here I wasn’t so sure about the fact how an imprisoned girl can send letters, and also, sometimes I think that fate and coincidence were very handy, what with the events unfolding, happening and ending like in this book. I’m not criticizing, no way, I’m just telling this to justify the fact that the book got 4 stars from me – there were tiny moments that it felt a bit too far – fetched for this kind of novel). Why did she choose Margot? Are the letters related to the most recent kidnapping of a young schoolgirl? Can Margot help the girl? And which girl, in fact? Bethan Avery, kidnapped in the 1990s, or Katie, kidnapped recently? There are many, many questions, and each page that you turn brings even more but the story was never confusing and even though I had no idea how it’s going to end, I always knew where I am with the characters and the story itself, and I was racing through the pages to find answers to all the questions.
There are some very strong characters in „Dear Amy” and even though I couldn’t warm to them totally (it had its reasons. They were so brilliantly complex and complicated that there were moments I wasn’t sure who can I trust to be honest) I absolutely appreciate the way they were drawn by the author. I am afraid that I can’t tell much about the characters – me and my big mouth, I am sure I’ll slip something away and I absolutely don’t want it, I don’t want to spoil this book for you! – but let me just tell you that Margot was very well crafted. She was complex and to be honest, my opinion about her changed few times. But also, she was a strong, brave woman who didn’t want to play victim. She was down to earth and she wasn’t afraid to make difficult decisions.
Welcome Martin Forrester, a criminologist, who’s going to help Margot solve this puzzle, the only person Margot finds she can trust – but can she? I loved, loved how multi – layered the characters were and that I really couldn’t be sure about them. Martin was, just like Margot, a strong person and he provided the more objective perspective to Margot’s often sudden and hot decisions.
However, I also think that the first part of the book was absolutely gripping and the writing was excellent, while the second part of it felt a little flat, as if the author lost her sparkle. It was then that I felt a little confused – not about the plot, but about the writing itself, and sometimes I had a feeling that the chapters just jump all over the place. And yes, the whole story led us to a very exciting climax but it was a little too rushed for my liking, compared to the whole story. But overall, „Dear Amy” is pacy and the writing style is so strong and confident and the plot is fresh and original and it more than once surprised me and it headed in the totally different direction to this I thought it’s going to, but it didn’t bother me and I just allowed myself to flow with the words. It was full of tension and I really didn’t see this ending coming. There was also something so very special to the writing style that made me feel and see the things together with Margot – I’m not sure what I want to say by this, but I just had a feeling that I’m seeing the things in exactly the same moment as Margot did, and I’m not sure if I have ever experienced something like this before. So altogether, it is a real page turner and a dramatic read that had me glued to the pages and that I really recommend!