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Sunday 22 July 2018

‘Guilt’ by Amanda Robson

Published by Avon Books,
19 April 2018.
ISBN: 968-0-00-821224-7 (PB)

A debut novel that has won many plaudits is always a hard act to follow and this, the author’s second, must demonstrate the same knockout qualities.

Here the reader encounters fraternal twins, Zara and Miranda, who live in Miranda’s flat in Bristol.  Zara is a dropout and gets her kicks by cutting herself but eventually manages to enrol on a photography undergraduate degree course. Miranda is a high-flying accountant in a prestigious firm. They’re chalk and cheese   but have always supported each other through thick and thin. Enter Sebastian, handsome, manipulative and charismatic with whom Zara is besotted. He moves in to the flat, slowly and surely undermining the twins devoted relationship and lands a job not only in the same firm as Miranda, but also in the same room.

The story is narrated in the first person present tense from the perspective of each of the three principal characters.   Each chapter is sharp and short, no more than a page or so long, that is tautly dramatic.  That Sebastian has ulterior motives is apparent from the outset and Miranda takes an instant dislike to him. However, she’s between the devil and the deep blue sea and can’t get rid of him because to do so would compromise not only her close sisterly relationship with Zara but also Zara’s fragile mental state.

Zara is persuaded by Sebastian to believe that Miranda is jealous of her and desires Sebastian for herself. Without providing a spoiler, a toxic crime scene, born from lies, deceit, mind games and lust, arises that leads to one of the twins being locked away in a women’s prison and puts her in the dock, battling, against all the evidence, to establish her innocence.

The writing is fast paced, characterisation is well explored, the dialogue frisky and natural. The reader will root for some characters but not for others, but it will certainly keep him/her on tenterhooks and guessing to the end.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

After graduating, Amanda Robson worked in medical research at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine, and at the Poison’s Unit at Guy’s hospital where she became a co-author of a book on cyanide poisoning.  This has set her in good stead for writing her debut novel, Obsession, a dark and twisted tale about love affairs gone wrong. Amanda attended the Faber Academy writing course in 2011, and now writes from home full time. She lives in London and Wales, with her lawyer husband

Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.

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