Hannah Jones arrives at Oxford University’s Pelham College to begin the education journey she’s worked hard to achieve. Her suite mate is April Clarke-Clivedon and they couldn’t be more opposite. April is outgoing, from a wealthy family and attracts people with little effort. Hannah’s more the introvert, from a working class family and a small town. April takes Hannah under her wing and introduces her to four of her friends from boarding school. Soon Hannah, April, Will, Ryan, Emily and Hugh are their own little pack but before the year ends, April is dead. It’s now ten years later and John Neville, the man convicted of April’s murder has died in prison having never ceased protesting his innocence and fighting to be released. Hannah, whose testimony helped put the man in prison, now believes she can finally breathe and put this chapter of her life behind her, focusing on her pregnancy and husband. But, a journalist contacts her with new information that casts doubt on Neville’s guilt, sending her into a new tailspin brought on by further revelations.
the heart of the story…
The story unfolds with alternating transitions between the present and ten years prior, all with Hannah as the narrator. The contrast is striking as her voice in the past reflects the hopes, dreams and fresh outlook of a new college student. Present day Hannah is consumed by anxiety and angst as she’s clearly never fully recovered from the trauma of April’s death. She’s full of second guessing and it doesn’t take much for the journalist to ignite this kindling. Her inner musings became wearisome over time but was balanced by the storytelling leading up to the murder. But what I really enjoyed was the exploration and depth of the development of all of the characters comprising their group. As those revelations began emerging, I felt as if I knew these people so well that I could adequately sift through the red herrings, toss out what I found groundless and retain what made sense to who I knew them to be. Poor Hannah becomes muddled by it all, suspecting all of them at some point, including husband Will!
Imogen Church is one of my favorites and she did a great job in making me feel Hannah’s angst, almost too good of a performance. And, I always recognized every member of the group as she provided fine distinctions. The pacing was a little slow so I listened at a higher speed as an adjustment (it worked).
the bottom line…
This is a slow burn that you’ve got to stick with as there’s an excellent payoff. When it ramps up, it shifts from a character-driven psychological thriller to something more exciting and nail biting. It made me think about the details, including the more mundane that would later prove important as you not only have to assess whether Neville was guilty or not but who else might have been the real killer. Though it was a bit longer than necessary, I found myself anxious to resume my listening until I reached the end. This was a mind bender and I feel smug about having guessed right but also that the underlying motive was an absolute surprise. Ware never lets me down and I’ll be waiting patiently for whatever she delivers next.
- Release Date: July 12, 2022
- Narrator: Imogen Church
- Audio Length: 17 hours, 9 minutes
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
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(Thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)