Saturday, 4 February 2017

Tattletale - Sarah J Naughton

Crikey, the author tackles some difficult and harrowing subjects in this novel, but it does it with great panache and empathy. Wow, does it pack a punch and is in turn horrifying, scary and heart-breaking.

Firstly, let me declare it a thoroughly gripping read, a real Who? What? Omg! Page turner. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading complex twisty thrillers and isn’t too sensitive to read a fair amount of gruesome detail on the subjects of child abuse and rape, mental illness, murder and a soupcon of gay sex thrown in.

This is a psychological thriller at its very best, it grabs you by the throat from the outset, introduces you to a whole bunch of great characters lets you warm to them then makes you suspect them of all manner of misdeeds. It is that rare mix of character driven and storyline driven novel, which make it exciting, eventful and at times chaotic. It also caused me to reveal some prejudices I felt ashamed of when I was guilty of disbelieving at least one character, whom I should have had the courage to trust.

I did find the rather disjointed beginning confusing, with several short, seemingly unrelated incidents all serving to confuse the reader. Don’t let this put you off – roll with it, put them to one side as the story will throw them at you later and you will go Ahhh, NOW I understand!

The main protagonists are two women, there is Mags, strong, feisty, determined and a successful lawyer, we meet her on a plane, on her way back to the UK after a long time living in America, to be at the bedside of her brother Abe, from whom she is almost totally estranged, not having spoken to him since she left home at 16.

Already at his bedside is Jody, who introduces herself as Abe’s fiancĂ©, about whom Mags knew nothing. Jody is Mags polar opposite, she is quiet, nervous, shy and neurotic, yet that she completely adored Abe is never in question.

However both women share something in common – traumatic upbringings which have shaped them into what they have become today. It’s not clear from the outset, when we regress to past events, who exactly they are happening to and this causes apprehension and mystery to develop.
We are never quite sure who is bad, who is sad and whether many folk are a little bit mad, it really put me through the mill of emotions.

Mags begins to have cause to doubt some of Jody’s story and has to decide whether she is being deliberately deceitful, is mad as a box of frogs or maybe she is just confused and grief stricken?

This multi-layered story took me places I never want to go, from the bedside of a dying man who can’t tell us how he sustained these mortal injuries, to the mind of a horrifically abused innocent 7 year old whose belief in happy endings is cruelly crushed, to a tense courtroom drama, where I willed a vile creature to be punished for their crimes.

From a confusing beginning it only gets better and better as the tension ramps up and secrets and past evils emerge. It's totally absorbing and engaging and it's very scary and distasteful and will make even the mildest mannered soul long for retribution.

If ever a book was guaranteed to make you feel hatred and loathing for certain characters and events, it is this one, however it is also a story of revenge and redemption and I actually found the ending rather uplifting.

The Blurb

For fans of Disclaimer and I Let You Go, Tattletale is the debut psychological thriller you can't miss.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who believed in fairytales. Now she is out to get your happy ending.

One day changes Jody's life forever.
She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.

One day changes Mags' life forever.
After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiance Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind.

But the pieces don't quite seem to fit...

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