As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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HQ, 28 December 2017. ISBN:
Fiction, like every other leisure activity, is subject to trends and
fashions, and at the moment, following a long overdue change in legislation and
attitudes, one which is ripe for attention is men who use devious means to
control the women they profess to love. White Bodies isn't the first
psychological thriller I've read on that theme, and I doubt it will be the
last. The challenge for the author, of course, is to offer a new twist on what
has rapidly become a familiar message.
It begins with a funeral –
not, as you might expect, of the abused wife, but of the controlling husband.
That's not a spoiler; it's right there in the first chapter, described, as is
the entire story, from the point of view of the wife's sister. And that
viewpoint is the first indication that Jane Robins has a sure hand on the
tiller: Callie, the narrating sister, comes across as just as sharp and rounded
a character as Tilda, the histrionic abused wife, and Felix, the charming
abuser. Turning a first-person narrator into a real, scratch-me-and-I-bleed
person is hard to pull off, and she does it.
The same applies to all the
characters; even the most minor players have extra layers and dimensions. I
felt I would know them if I met them, not just visually but in terms of
personality as well. I especially enjoyed Daphne, the owner of the bookshop
where Callie works, and Wilf, the estate agent turned gardener who brings some
much-needed sanity into her life. I wanted to hug Callie, drag Tilda to safety,
grin at Wilf, visit the bookshop, slap selfish Charlotte (read it and see), or
simply hang out with some of the others. and as for Felix... Best not to ask.
Locations are equally well
depicted; it's easy to visualize Tilda's sophisticated flat in both its
incarnations, the rough and ready pub which serves cheese and Marmite
sandwiches on the lunch menu, and the wasteland Wilf is turning into a garden.
The plot twists and turns along with a nod, duly acknowledged, to the classic
thriller Strangers on a Train. Then, just when you think you know
exactly where it's going and prepare yourself for the mild disappointment of
not being surprised by the ending... I'll say no more, except you won't see it
coming; I certainly didn't.
Jane Robins was already an
experienced writer of non-fiction before embarking on this, her first novel,
and she shows herself to be equally accomplished in her new chosen genre.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Robinsbegan her career as a journalist
with The Economist, The Independent, and the BBC. She has made a specialty of
writing historical true crime and has a particular interest in the history of
forensics. She has published three books of nonfiction in the UK, Rebel
Queen, The Magnificent Spilsbury, and The Curious Habits of
Doctor Adams. More recently, she has been a Fellow at the Royal Literary
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.