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HarperCollins Killer Reads, 12 January 2017. ISBN: 978-0-0082-1508-8
What if someone from your past, someone you were once close to,
suddenly reappears in your life despite your strenuous efforts to operate under
the radar? And what if that person gets under your skin again, and the past you
share comes out of the shadows and threatens everything you hold dear? That’s
the premise behind Losing Juliet, a debut psychological thriller from
Leeds-based author June Taylor.
It’s told from the point of
view of Eloise, teenage daughter of emotionally fragile Chrissy. Warned by her
late father that Chrissy will need careful handling, Eloise is delighted when
glamorous, confident Juliet comes in search of her old friend from university
days; perhaps now, she thinks, someone else can share the burden and she can
have a life of her own.
But of course it’s never that
simple. Chrissy and Juliet share a secret as well as a past, and as the truth
about the ending of their friendship emerges it becomes plain why Chrissy is
camera-shy and internet-phobic, and has worked so hard to stay invisible.
The action spans two decades,
three cities and a beautiful country estate in Tuscany, as well as assorted
French motorways and a sleazy motel, and each location comes across loud and
clear. The shabbier side of Manchester and Bristol contrast well with an
upmarket apartment in Rome, and the Tuscan idyll left me dreaming of hot
summers and glorious countryside.
But of course fiction is
mainly about the characters, and they too are well realized. Chrissy takes
centre stage in the flashback sections which reveal her secret bit by bit;
Eloise takes up the baton in the later, here-and-now passages. But the real
star is Juliet: rich and beautiful, a little enigmatic, damaged and desperate
to put right the wrongs of the past.
Once I set aside misgivings
about whether a real-life Chrissy would ever have let Juliet back into her
life, I found myself as swept up in their story as Eloise was, and even the
occasional bumpy sentence in among mostly smooth and effortless writing didn’t
prove too much of a distraction.
Losing Juliet is a promising debut from a competent writer. I’ll be
interested to see what she does next.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
June Tayloris a UK writer who was
runner-up in the 2011 Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction competition with
her Young Adult book Lovely me, Lovely You. But she mainly writes Adult
psychological thrillers, and Losing Juliet is her debut novel. She was a TV
promos writer/producer for many years before becoming a full-time writer. June
also writes plays as well as fiction. She is very active in the Yorkshire
writing scene, on the Board of Script Yorkshire and part of Leeds Big Bookend.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.