Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon

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Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: It's best friend versus husband for Michelle, but whichever one is telling her the true story, she's really not assured a happy ending. An intricate story with lots of bite.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Penguin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405917674

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Tamsin and Michelle have been friends for decades. Aside from parents, they're the longest relationship in the book, longer than Michelle and Patrick's marriage, longer than Bea has worked as Tamsin's assistant. All four characters feature heavily, though, in a story that is always moving and never boring.

BFFs look out for each other, so when Tamsin hears unsettling rumours about Patrick, she feels duty bound to investigate them on Michelle's behalf. It is just work gossip (Tamsin and Patrick are in the same field) or is there something more to it, fire behind the smoke? Enlisting Bea as a rather unwilling accomplice, Tamsin hatches a plan but the results are something that neither Tamsin nor the reader will expect.

This is quite a long book and I liked the use of part one, part two and so on to segment the story, and to lead up to cliffhanger twists. While the book spends a lot of time in Tamsin's voice, it changes after a while which I loved as suddenly after seeing things, apparently, so clearly, you're assaulted with a very different perspective. This left me questioning everything I believed, both about the story and about Tamsin as a person.

There are a lot of lessons in this book, and I'll start with the clichés. Let sleeping dogs lie. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Better the devil you know. Ignorance is bliss. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. There's more to it than these sound bites, though. I learnt never to let an assistant get me coffee, and never to leave myself that exposed. A lot of Tamsin's troubles are predictable and preventable, and for the most part self-inflicted.

This is a story of love, lies and betrayal. It's about whether you should believe your husband or your best friend, when one is clearly lying, and it's about how you can try to unravel long, sticky messes of motives, self-preservation and vindictiveness. It's a story that is funny in places but not always obviously so. It's a lovely if somewhat depressing read, but if you like thrillers that keep a whodunit feel without the hassles of kidnap, murder and torture this one is highly recommended. Neatly written, slickly edited and sufficiently tied up at the end, it is an easy read without being simplistic, and one many will enjoy navigating.

I'd like to thank the publishers for supplying this book. By the same author, The Ugly Sister and Skeletons are also excellent.

Booklists.jpg Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon is in the Top Ten Women's Fiction Books of 2016.

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