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by Jane Casey
Ebury Press, February 2011
477 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0091935997

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sarah Banes, now Sarah Finch, is a reluctant primary school teacher, still living with her mother in the house where she grew up. Her childhood was a happy one until her older brother Charlie vanished from their garden one summer's afternoon when he was twelve. The police never found him, no one was ever arrested in connection with his disappearance, and all Sarah remembers is Charlie telling her that he would be back later. Over the years her mother has turned into a barely functioning alcoholic, divorced from her father who died in a car crash not long afterwards. Sarah changed her name and has done her best to forget the older brother who never came home. Most other people have forgotten too.

But someone knows, someone remembers, and after Sarah finds Jenny Shepherd's body in a forest while out running, Sarah's life starts to unravel as she unearths clues to her brother's disappearance which finally lead to the truth about Charlie's fate that has remained buried for sixteen years, and the deadly link to Jenny's murder.

Told from Sarah's point of view with flashbacks to defining moments from her past, this is a masterfully written, perfectly executed first novel from author Jane Casey. Deeply disturbing, it pulls back the curtains of a prim suburbia and reveals dark secrets and corrosive lies. Here is a deep-seated obsession that spans sixteen years, histories of abuse lasting several lifetimes, and at the core of the story a woman who never escaped her past but walled up the pain of a devastated childhood and who now presents to the world a false image of herself, her guilt and grief carefully hidden behind a well-maintained mask.

The author has carefully woven a web of horrific events, with Sarah at their centre. The harder she tries to escape the faster she becomes stuck, until at the inevitable climax she discovers whether or not she's strong enough to survive.

This is a brilliant book, impossible to put down but so harrowing that it leaves a firm impression on the reader long after its end; an unsettling feeling that this could be happening now, somewhere, behind closed curtains, and relief that it's not happening to them.

Madeleine Marsh is an aspiring writer who lives in the South West. She helps run sci-fi conventions and loves modern cinema.

Reviewed by Madeleine Marsh, April 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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