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Monday, 26 August 2019

‘The Other Mrs Miller’ by Allison Dickson


Published by Sphere,
16 July 2019.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-7480-7 (TPB)

When you When you pick up a novel in the crime or thriller fiction genre, it's never a surprise when you encounter a dead body. In that regard, The Other Mrs Miller runs true to form. But in every other way this twisty, unusual psychological thriller is full of surprises – including the identity of that dead body. 

Phoebe Miller is a poor little rich girl. Her billionaire father has recently died (of natural causes in case you were wondering), leaving in his wake a whole raft of lawsuits from women who claim he sexually assaulted them, and consequently a lot of hassle from the press. Phoebe takes comfort in far too much wine and the upmarket version of junk food, and between that and her refusal to continue with IVF after four failed attempts, her marriage to psychotherapist Wyatt begins to fall apart.

Then a new family moves into the neighbourhood, including Jake, an alluring eighteen-year-old son. Phoebe starts a secret affair with him, and also becomes friends with his mother Vicki, who might just possibly be an abused wife – and these new interests almost make her forget the blue car which has parked across the street every day for months, making her wonder if she's being spied on.

And then there's a blackmail note.

It mostly takes place in and around Phoebe and Wyatt's upscale suburban home (quartz worktops in the kitchen, knives costing a thousand dollars) and Vicki's spartan and dilapidated one (folding metal chairs, rotting hoses on the kitchen appliances), with occasional forays into the moneyed surrounding area (Italian cake shops, designer clothes). It's all vivid and colourful, even (or perhaps especially) the one brief trip outside this affluence into poorer agricultural territory. 

As if a great sense of place and a plot with more going on than an episode of EastEnders wasn't enough, Allison Dickson has peopled this scenario with slightly larger than life characters who would be quite at home in a soap opera. Jake could be a young Jason Donovan. Martine McCutcheon could play histrionic-prone Vicki, with Ross Kemp as his combustible dad. Phoebe herself might have stepped out of Dynasty.  

And then there's Nadia. Did I mention Nadia? She's the one who turns everything on its head...

If I haven't tempted you to read this novel yet, let me have one more try. There's a massive twist, and I challenge the most experienced thriller reader to see it coming. No, it's not another attempt at Gone Girl. The Other Mrs Miller plays by its own rules. I loved it. So will you. 
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Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Allison M. Dickson is the author of several well-reviewed independently published novels and short stories covering everything from horror and sci-fi to suspense. Her major debut thriller, The Other Mrs. Miller, was published by Putnam on 7/16/19Allison M. Dickson is the author of several well-reviewed independently published novels and short stories covering everything from horror and sci-fi to suspense. Her major debut thriller, The Other Mrs. Miller, was published by Putnam on 16 July 2019.



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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