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Friday, 11 August 2017

‘Where She Went’ by B E Jones

Published by Constable,
27 July 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-47212-383-1 (PB)

Just when you think there are no more twists or variations left on the psychological thriller theme, along comes something you'd never have dreamed of.

We've all read books which focus on the victim of a crime. This one takes that to a whole new level. It's hard to know what else to say without venturing deep into spoiler country; suffice to say that if you start off thinking it's been done this way before (which in a way I suppose it has), you'll soon change your mind as I did.

Cards on the table: I loved this book. It started off at an advantage; it's set in my favourite part of south Wales, and takes place in locations that carry happy memories for me. But that was only one factor. For me, the best books bring the characters to life in a way that makes you sad to leave them behind when their story ends; this one did that in spades. What's more, it did it in the most difficult way: first-person narration. Melanie Black, the protagonist and narrator, not only sprang into being herself as a feisty, ambitious, observant and witty Amazonian career woman; she also painted wry but rounded pictures of the other players in her story.

Peter, the controlling husband, made me (and every other woman with red blood) want to slap him into the kind of submission he demands from Eve, his downtrodden wife. You'll be pleased to know the worm does turn, and she doesn't let him grind her into the ground. I was amazed Melanie hadn't seen through Eliot, the conflicted love rat, charming though he was. And I feared for toddler Adam, who seemed set fair to follow in his father's footsteps until... Ah, but that would be telling.

Even minor characters who get no more than a few pages of attention are vibrantly alive. There's Nora, a warm, comforting carer; Bella, the oblivious wife in a domestic triangle; Julienne, another career woman with a tough-as-nails streak; and Marilyn, the office gossip.

Melanie herself is a TV news reporter, and it's plain that this is a world B E Jones knows intimately. Not only does she present a vivid picture of the way it works; she also structures the novel in the way a news story would unfold, and lets out the facts of the matter a few at a time with the help of Polly, the junior reporter tasked with following it through.

It all adds up to a book that made me smile, laugh, shed the odd tear and want to pound my fists against the characters who just weren't getting it. And it made me want to go on reading it regardless of real life going on around me. You can't say fairer than that.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Beverley Jones is a former journalist and police press officer, now a novelist and general book obsessive. She was born in a small village in the South Wales valleys, north of Cardiff. She started her journalism career with Trinity Mirror newspapers, writing stories for The Rhondda Leader and The Western Mail, before becoming a broadcast journalist with BBC Wales Today TV news, based in Cardiff. She has worked on all aspects of crime reporting (as well as community news and features) producing stories and content for newspapers and live TV. Most recently Beverley worked as a press officer for South Wales Police, dealing with the media and participating in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning. Her latest novel, Where She Went, is published by Little Brown under the name BE Jones.


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.

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