It's a privilege that my first review of 2017 is for the tense and quite wonderful Fracture by Heleyne Hammersley.
What an intense and terrifying road trip of a book!
In this unusual and gripping psychological drama we meet Rosie who has had a very tough time, she bears the mental and physical scars of the bitter ending of a toxic relationship which has left her uncertain of her own future and lacking in confidence.
So when her parents suggest a change of scene might be the thing she needs to boost her recovery it seems easiest to go along with it even though a long solo flight is ultra daunting to Rosie's frayed nerves. Its clear she's apprehensive and uncertain of herself and her mind often plays tricks on her. She sets off on a journey of recovery and self discovery that just might be her undoing.
On arrival in Australia the warm welcome from her laid back Uncle Charlie and loud but lovable Aunt Rita seems to be just the balm she needs to salve her wounds, and following weeks lazing by the pool and reading (my idea of heaven) she finally bites the bullet and gets out to explore her surroundings.
Walking along a cliff top one day she sees a sunbather which her overwrought imagination lets her think is a dead body, when she goes over to investigate - she finds herself staring into the eyes of the naked but very alive and kicking Alfie, an unconventional and irreverent young woman who is about to become a close companion. Is she just the diversion Rosie needs to bring her out of her shell or is she trouble with a capital T?
The book makes it clear from the start that something goes badly wrong as there are snippets of Rosie being questioned by the police about an event she is sketchy about and as the story unfolds it's clear she could be in big trouble. But has she brought this on herself or is Alfie to blame and just how and why has the mysterious and elusive Alfie disappeared?
The psychological twists are superb. Rosie is a likeable yet very unreliable narrator, and although at first her neuroses and hesitance were a touch irritating I soon warmed to her, gained empathy with her and was drawn into her world.
It is a thriller, there is a murder and you never quite know who to trust.
Its clear Rosie has some mental health issues, deep self denial and self esteem at rock bottom. At first I was overjoyed to see her blossoming and building a relationship which at first I thought was going to be the making of her, by the time the alarm bells rang loudly enough to make me have serious misgivings, she was in too deep.
In Alfie she finds the Yang to her Yin, she feels a deep kinship as though she is her own counterpart but Alfie behaves in all the outrageous ways Rosie will never be comfortable with and in this intense love/hate relationship lies the crux of the story a toxic friendship which is more than it at first appears.
This is the second book I have read by Heleyne Hammersley, she writes great characters into threatening situations and takes you on a journey to a beautifully described location to watch them play out.
Fabulous books from a little known author who I highly recommend.
Read my review of Heleynes debut novel Forgotten here.
Buy the ebook or paperback here
My thanks go to the author for allowing me to receive an advance review copy.