When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi

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When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi

Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A Scandinavian whodunnit, we have one crime and lots of potential motives to unwravel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: September 2017
Publisher: Aria
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786696090

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Anna is in a coma. Only two people know who inflicted the severe injuries that lead to her lying there unmoving in the hospital bed, the culprit who won’t talk, and Anna who can’t. If, and it’s a big if, she wakes up, she may remember what happened, but of course there’s a chance she quite literally did not know what hit her. For her husband Erik, it’s an agonising wait. The police don’t seem that interested, but he has to know who was responsible, and so he wonders whether he should do a bit of investigating himself. He shouldn’t, of course, because in a story like this there are secrets just waiting to be uncovered, and he may find that these are things he would rather have never known.

This is an interesting Scandinavian thriller, with quite a European (i.e. dirty!) side to it. Set in the present as Erik tries to uncover the truth, and in the past at the time various characters first showed their true colours, the story is easy enough to follow. There are multiple elements to this story. In her role as a teacher, Anna is dedicated. She enjoys her job, and wants to help her students, even those who push the boundaries. In her home life, she is a loving mother and wife, but craves something more, a life less ordinary. And Anna is not the only character we get to meet. The employees at her local library bring their loves for books and for unconventional relationships. Her husband Erik brings a reluctance to accept his mundane job (as a house painter and househusband) and relinquish his dreams (to be a musician). Her colleagues at work bring secrets of their own. It seems the answer to the question ‘’Who could possibly have wanted to harm Anna?’’ brings up a longer list of names than anyone might have suspected.

While I enjoyed this story, it wasn’t one I struggled to put down, and as such I read it over a week or so. Perhaps it needed more undivided attention, because whenever I was reading it I was happy enough to lose myself in the pages, but once I had moved on I wasn’t in a hurry to return. Though it’s an English original (not a translation) it retains an air of being a little foreign and sterile at times in the language used. There were a few bits that grated on me (such as Erik’s use of the word ‘mum’) – it wasn’t that it was incorrect, per se, it just didn’t seem that authentic.

The book is a little darker and seedier than I expected, and this was a welcome twist. There are certain characters, such as Rolf and Lena, who bring an edge to an otherwise normal (attempted) murder mystery, and it certainly stood out for this. Likewise, Daniel’s history took the story in another direction, and with each of these interruptions I was left wondering which were the important clues, and which were red herrings, mere facts within Anna’s past rather than hints at where the story would conclude.

I did enjoy this book but I have docked a star for the at times oddly inauthentic language, and for the length because I did feel a snappier story could have brought the same conclusion and kept my attention a little easier.

I’d like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. For more from this part of the world, we can recommend The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist.

Buy When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi at Amazon.com.


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