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Thursday, 19 May 2022

‘The Coffin Club’ by Jacqueline Sutherland

Published by Point Blank,
7 April 2022.
ISBN: 978-086154282-7 (HB)

When Sam and Kat Alexander are involved in a car crash, Sam dies, and Kat is left with severe facial injuries.  She recovers, but still bears the physical and emotional scars that remind her of her husband’s tragic death.  The book opens with Kat kneeling by Sam’s grave, talking to him.  The story she relates to her deceased spouse seems almost miraculous.  She begins by telling him how she dealt with the immediate aftermath of his death.  She was so distraught that she considered suicide…

Then she meets Ginny, the owner of a local animal sanctuary, whose no nonsense approach to life proves to be the perfect therapy.  Kat begins to assist with the rescued creatures in Ginny’s care and in doing so she regains her sense of equilibrium.  After a while, encouraged by her new, if somewhat eccentric friend, Kat joins the New Horizons Club.  The club caters specifically for people who have recently lost a partner.  Here she encounters the handsome, caring Nico who successfully woos and wins Kat.  Not only is Nico the perfect man, but he also offers Kat the thing she wants most in the world – a child.  All seems well, but as the plot unfolds, doubts about her new relationship begin to creep into Kat’s mind.  As tensions between the couple increase, it becomes clear that this is no fairy tale and that Kat may be in danger.

The novel is related through Kat’s viewpoint and the use of this first-person narrator makes it feels as though the character is speaking directly to the reader.  Kat tells the story confidentially and inspires a sense of trust.  There were moments I wanted to shout out, “Don’t do that!” to a protagonist who is engrossing and, at times, infuriating!  Indeed, all the characters are provocative, and this adds to the intrigue of the plot.  It is a testimony to the writer’s skill that one becomes lost in the emotion and pathos of the story to such an extent that it is easy to forget that the novel consists entirely of a monologue, delivered by Kat sitting at her dead husband’s graveside. 

This is a great debut novel that explores love, loss, friendship, motherhood and betrayal.  It is engrossing throughout and ends with a shocking and unexpected twist.  Enjoyable and highly recommended.

Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Jacqueline Sutherland lives in Guildford with her husband and four teenage boys where she has a reputation for watching horror films from behind cushions and never failing to burn garlic bread. Always a fan of words and with a career in PR and Marketing, she is an alumnus of the Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Her debut book The Coffin Club, was published 7 April 2022 by Point Blank.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

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