Hell to Pay by Jenny Thomson
|Hell to Pay by Jenny Thomson|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A misguided attempt at empowerment, that just turns out to be unsavoury and unpolished.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 143||Date: July 2013|
|Publisher: Sassy Books|
Nancy is trying to escape a naff Christmas with her naff boyfriend, but walks into a nightmare when she interrupts a burglary at her parents' home – a professional, violent, nay fatal, burglary. When she comes out of a therapeutic stay in an institute afterwards, she's seeking one thing – revenge. Her brother and his rap sheet might have something to do with those responsible, but only one thing will fire Nancy on – the need for vengeance against those who inflicted a double rape and such violence against her.
And that is all the plot summary it's possible to give for this slight, poorly produced thriller. It tries to have the blasé attitude of a black horror by, say, Shaun Hutson, but the one-track narrative just goes nowhere towards making the lead character an empowered avenging angel, and instead she flounders in a kind of reverse misogyny – this book fails to make its case of being 'Die Hard for Girls' and acts more as a nasty fantasy. Nancy tells herself at least once, leaning over a cowering culprit, that we are different – I'm not a monster like him, by simple virtue of being the one giving payback.
Those politics of the story aside we have to suffer a narration that hasn't been very well edited – it bursts into present tense at odd times, and purely at random. Nancy mentions a character's name way before she finishes seeking it. The first person telling shows Thomson can definitely write as a modern woman speaks (with added cliché) but beyond a couple of better lines that's all.
Luckily, things pick up in the second half, but even then the politics are dubious. Is this salvation in the form of a fit man for Nancy? Or is it something unexpected? Well, there is thankfully something of the latter for us to encounter before the end, which does almost make the book worth its short reading time. The last beats of the story are risible, however, so all in all this is not Hell, but no closer to being any of the alternatives.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Yes, it is the thriller de nos jours - but Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn deserves its five stars.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hell to Pay by Jenny Thomson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Hell to Pay by Jenny Thomson at Amazon.com.
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