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.
New reviews are posted daily, but to search for earlier reviews please click on the Mystery People link below and select 'reviews' from the welcome page. This will display an alphabetic option for you to find the review you would like to read
For PREVIOUS REVIEWS- Click on MYSTERY PEOPLE below -
Quercus, 6 September 2018. ISBN: 978-1-78747-093-4 (HB)
Motherhood is about as far as it's possible to get from crime – but
some employers still treat pregnant women as if they're committing some kind of
transgression against the company. And not only employers. In Charlotte
Duckworth's tense and often moving debut, it's not only the bosses but also a
fellow employee who uses her colleague's vulnerable state as a means of
hoisting herself up the corporate ladder – or is it?
At first Helena and Ashley
get along fine; Helena works hard to be the kind of manager who uses the carrot
rather than the stick to encourage her staff, and Ashley's fierce ambition
ensures that she works hard and makes every effort to impress. But it's that
ambition that eventually starts to come between them, and when Helena finds
herself unexpectedly pregnant things start to go very wrong.
Duckworth has created two
richly layered characters at the heart of this emotional scenario. On the
surface Ashley is self-seeking and driven, willing to do just about anything to
further the career she has carved out for herself – but a damaging past
threatens to break through that tough carapace, and it's hard not to feel
sympathy for her even when her self-interest hurts other people. Helena loves
her job and wants to succeed, but not at other people's expense; she doesn't
want pregnancy and motherhood to stand in her way but is overtaken by both
hormones and events.
The novel is set-in two-time
frames, and the setting for each is well drawn: the fast-moving corporate
environment, and the more relaxed country village where everything slows down
except the traffic. The recent past strand charts the two women's early
relationship, and the present timeline reveals how Helena's life has developed
since things began to go wrong. She holds Ashley responsible, but there are
hints that perhaps that isn't quite the case; and when the truth finally comes
to light it will bring tears to the eyes of the most hardened thriller reader.
By the end I was asking
myself if thriller was the right description for this meticulously charted
account of a working partnership going horribly wrong. I felt desperately sorry
for Helena; in particular, one chapter close to the end is heartbreaking. But
Ashley was deserving of some fellow feeling too; is ambition really such a
crime? There's tension between them, and an element of mystery as the real
situation slowly unfolds, but my jury is still out on whether the crime shelves
are really the right place for this well written, beautifully constructed
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Duckworth has spent the past fifteen years working as an
interiors and lifestyle journalist, writing for a wide range of consumer
magazines and websites. She lives in Surrey with her partner and their
young daughter. You can find out more on her website.
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.