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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Sphere, 9 July 2020. ISBN: 978-0-7515-7593-4
The first thing to bear in mind when you start to read this book is Believe
nothing, and trust no one. Especially the second. There’s a surprise up the
sleeve of every character, good and bad – and it’s often impossible to tell the
Picture the ordinary domestic
scene. The kitchen of a young couple’s home in rural America. Jem and Leo. She
is cooking up a delicious breakfast from perfectly ripe avocado and home-grown
tomatoes; he is preparing for a business trip, chasing himself in circles
looking for keys, phone, briefcase, late for his flight. There’s a hint that a
cloud hangs over their apparently blissful relationship, but all seems to be
well when he leaves.
Then, minutes after he’s out
of the door, someone knocks. Jem isn’t expecting anyone. She never is; they
live in an isolated place, and she hardly knows anyone.
The visitors are from the
FBI, and they have a tale to tell Jem about Leo that doesn’t fit with anything
she knows about him. In the middle of it all the phone rings. And that’s when
it starts to get really complicated.
The man on the phone tells
Jem to run, and she does. From then on the story lurches from one twist to the
next. There are chases, by car and on foot; the local police chief gets
involved; there’s a murder, the first of several; Jem falls in with Trevor, an
elderly man who lives in a remote cabin. And just when you think everything is
resolved, there’s the mother and father of a twist that will make you wonder
whether you can even believe in yourself.
As if the plot to end all
plots wasn’t enough, T W Ellis has also created a cast of characters who could
leap off the page and start dancing without surprising you any more than they
already do. Jem suffers from chronic anxiety; Trevor stopped trusting anyone in
authority long ago; Rusty the police chief has a coffee habit and a secret she
would prefer to keep. Leo is absent for much of the book, but still a distinct
personality. The FBI guys, or not as the case may be, have little quirks of
their own, but I wouldn’t tangle with them if I were you.
It’s one of those books in
which everything happens at breakneck speed. The only respite from the breathless
action is an occasional wander into Rusty’s viewpoint; she’s the kind of cop
who likes to stand back and take stock once in a while. But even she has to
move fast when things get going. I recommend you put a few hours aside before
you start reading. Because once you start, you won’t want to stop.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
T.W. Ellis is a pseudonym for Tom Wood, a full-time writer born
in Burton-on-Trent who now lives in London. After a stint as freelance editor
and filmmaker, he completed his first novel, The Hunter, which was an instant
bestseller and introduced readers to the antihero assassin Victor. The Victor
novels have sold more than half-a-million copies, and Better Off Dead was a BBC
Radio 2 Book Club pick. A Knock at the Door is his first psychological thriller.
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 in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half
of them crime fiction.