Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes
|Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A top-class thriller which you won't be able to put down. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: October 2016|
|Publisher: Myriad Editions|
|External links: Author's website|
Sarah lives alone in an isolated farmhouse on the North Yorkshire moors: she's widowed. Her daughter Kitty is away at university and her son Louis and she have lost contact: there's some animosity on Louis' side but Sarah can't quite understand what's behind it. She and Aiden reconnected on Facebook: he was a close friend of Jim, Sarah's late husband and Sarah when they were at university. He's coming back to the UK and impulsively Sarah tells him that he can live in the cottage on her land. She's always been drawn to him - they had a fling once before she married - and it's not long before they begin a sexually-charged relationship. But there's quite a bit about Aiden which Sarah can't understand: what exactly is it that Aiden does for a living? Can she trust him?
Sarah's always felt lucky in her friend Sophie, who's married to the local MP. He's not a particularly pleasant individual and Sarah's not all that surprised, given George's history in the marital fidelity stakes, when Sophie starts a relationship with Will, who's a friend of Louis. There's quite an age difference and Will has problems of his own. He's also got an unnerving habit of turning up at Sophie's house unannounced. When Kitty goes missing and then Aiden and Sophie disappear, Sarah isn't certain who she can trust.
I still remember my delight when I discovered Elizabeth Haynes' first novel and my worry that her second wouldn't live up to expectation. It was such a relief when it did. I've now read five books and a short story: I no longer wonder if the book will be good. I expect that it will be: she delivers excellent books, consistently and Never Alone is no exception. There's a feeling of tension, of something not being quite right from the very beginning and it doesn't let up until the final page.
The format is a little unusual: we get Aiden's side of the story, but he speaks of himself in the third person. Sarah's story is also in the third person, but there's also another, unnamed person who is giving their first-person viewpoint and this person's intentions are far from good, but who is it? The combination creates a sense of menace - and the short chapters keep you turning the pages. It's a masterclass in how to write a thriller.
Impressive characters help too: Sarah's fallible. There was an 'incident' at her son's 21st birthday party, soon after Jim's death, which she tries not to regret, but which was a mistake. Aiden's almost too caring: what is it that he's hiding? As for Will, well it's easy to understand why he can be a bit annoying. His parents split up and his mother and one child went one way, his father and another went a different way and Will sort of got left behind, presumed to be old enough to look after himself. He probably is, but he seems to be homeless and rootless: Sarah's house seems to be the only place where he can be sure of a welcome and occasionally a bed when things get really bad. It's just that it's annoying when he turns up unexpectedly.
It's a couple of days since I finished the book and I'm still concerned about some of the characters: they've taken root in my mind. It was a great read and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
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