|After the Storm by Jane Lythell|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A very interesting study of two sets of strangers confined together on a sailing boat but not as hot on suspense until the final hold-onto-your-hats third.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: January 2015|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
Rob and Anna are nearing the Honduras leg of their South American travels. Here they meet Kimberley and Owen, an American couple who charter out their own boat for sailing trips around the local islands. Rob persuades Anna it will be a fun way to end their holiday but Anna isn't so sure. There's something about Owen and Kimberley that makes her hesitant about being shut away on a boat at sea with them. Perhaps it's the way that he never sleeps or the mystery as to why there are no knives in the cutlery drawer. Rob thinks Anna's just overly imaginative, but time will tell.
British author, TV producer and Chief Executive of BAFTA Jane Lythell has done with this, her second novel, what she did with her debut The Lie of You. By that I don't mean that the novels are samey. Jane has successfully moved from her debut's stalker and romantic liaisons to these two couples learning about each other, providing us with distinct and separate characters. No, what she's done is to write a novel that would make an excellent TV series or film. In fact it would make a better TV series or film but that's not saying it's not good stuff.
On the surface Anna and Rob may be sure of themselves and each other while Owen and Kim are at odds with what they want in life but Jane has ensured it's more deliciously complicated than that. Each does indeed have a past that will impact the others before the novel finishes. In this way I found the characters more believable than Heja and Kath in The Lie Of You. This alone makes it well worth a read but there's more.
It's also a thriller and, even though the thrills don't kick in till the last third it’s more than worth the wait when we get there. (Although there is an earlier brush with the mangrove swamp gives way to a chewed nail or two!) Up till that point the twists are sometimes built up by some hefty sign-posting and occasionally fizzle out or prove predictable (e.g. we guess the reason for Kim's attitude towards knives before we find out officially). However the foursome's interplay and the jaw dropping problems they'll encounter as the climax leads in makes it incredibly easy to forgive such small niggles.
As a study of the interrelationships of four people fighting past secrets and current problems it's fascinating and clever. Gradually Jane bleeds the past into the present as we realise what has made our four travellers into the people they are. Each has no-go areas of pain that we will eventually access, one of them coming as a total surprise.
Jane definitely has a talent for writing psychologically scarred, complicated people. I finished the novel wanting to hug all four and remembering them long after I'd finished reading. But if Jane could build suspense throughout in the same way that she blows us away in the final third (of either novel), even 5* wouldn't suffice.
(Thank you to Head of Zeus for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you would like to read more of Jane's work, do try The Lie of You. If you're already a fan or fancy broadening your horizons, we also recommend The Wolf in Winter (Charlie Parker Thriller) by John Connolly or The Vanished Ones by Donato Carrisi.
You can read more book reviews or buy After the Storm by Jane Lythell at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy After the Storm by Jane Lythell at Amazon.com.
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