Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publication Date: 5th November 2019
Review Date: 10th February 2020
Can love hurt more than it can heal? The answer lies in the hospital mortuary. Dr. Ruth Cooper has a new job. A fresh start. Yet something is missing. When her confidence is rocked by two serious complaints, widower Dominic Peterson provides a sympathetic ear. But, as their relationship develops, Dominic's four year-old daughter Bella becomes increasingly unwell. Can Ruth save Bella, and salvage her reputation? Or will her past come back to haunt her?
A twisty tale of domestic noir. A psychological thriller that will keep you in suspense until the end.
I have been looking forward to reading this debut by Fiona Blakemore which was written during her time on the Creative Writing MA at Bath Spa University. Many prolific psychological thriller writers such as Cally Taylor, Jane Shemilt, and Emily Koch have all emerged from this same master’s programme, so my expectations for this novel were already set high! So, was it as good as I hoped it would be? Read on to find out…
The novel has a third person narrator that mostly focuses on Dr Ruth Cooper, a thirty-something GP, who after having her heart broken has moved back to the UK from Australia. There are some chapters on Dominic, who Ruth has met through a mutual friend, as well as some from the perspective of Bella, his young daughter; but with the narrative mostly focussing on Ruth, the reader is left in no doubt as to who the protagonist is.
From the novel’s opening flash forward prologue, it is clear the author’s writing style is not only rich in vivid imagery but her level of focalisation zooms in close: ‘She bites her lip until she can taste metal in her mouth’. Whilst this is the narrator’s point of view, the reader has been placed right in Ruth’s shoes, you can almost taste the blood and feel her pain. The language is often metaphorical, with birds featuring throughout the novel. There is a scene early on where Dominic’s telephone conversation with Bella’s doctor is metaphorically replicated between his neighbour’s cat and birds in the garden; ending with ‘No sign of the cat. Just a bird feeder swinging in the breeze.’ Ruth is a free and independent woman, with no commitments (apart from her job); she is able to fly away at any time, but since meeting Dominic her wings have become clipped and she is becoming trapped like a caged bird. This intense metaphorical imagery is partnered with often short and choppy sentence structures, making for a fast paced and spine tingling read.
Whilst a third-person narrator is unable to lie in the same way a first-person narrator can, the author has cleverly set seeds of doubt as to who is telling the truth not by telling lies but by leaving out whole truths. The plot is an intricate one, and by the end of the story lots of small seemingly inconsequential things all add up to one very satisfying conclusion.
I can honestly say, I totally loved this book and it is definitely one that will stay with me. It is hard to believe this is Fiona Blakemore’s first novel and I certainly can’t wait to read the next one! I would recommend this book for fans of Jane Shemilt or Louise Jensen.
About the Author
Fiona was born in Newcastle-upon–Tyne and spent her childhood moving schools every year, following her peripatetic father in his various postings at work. This, no doubt, instilled a sense of wanderlust in her, which continued throughout her early career when she worked for short spells in Canada and Australia.
Fiona studied medicine in Scotland and spent many years as a family doctor, interspersed with stints as an aeromedical officer, repatriating sick holidaymakers from far-flung destinations.
She has always had an interest in stories and has been a weekly medical correspondent for a regional newspaper, an agony aunt for a national women’s magazine and a presenter of medical television programmes for GPs. A long-held desire to write fiction spurred her to complete the Bath Spa University MA in Creative Writing. Fiona graduated in 2018 and, in the same year, her novel Love Until it Hurts was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbit Bath Spa Prize.
Fiona is now settled in the South West of England and, when not sitting at her writing desk, she likes walking in the countryside and looking after her bees.
Thank you to the author for an Review Copy of this book.