Nina Todd Has Gone by Lesley Glaister

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Nina Todd Has Gone by Lesley Glaister

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: This novel just races by with its tale of revenge, as a man and a woman meet. Neither is as they seem, and past secrets are heightened as the tale passes all too quickly. A very good literary thriller.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: May 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747586944

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She is a woman who moves to Sheffield, getting away from her past. Using a made-up name, she falls into a mediocre job, and moves in with her boyfriend and his mother. On a business trip away, she lets a man seduce her for the night, not knowing what it would lead to.

He is a man who moves to Sheffield, leaving his parents broken by the past. Using a made-up name, he employs a private investigator, and locates his goal. On a trip away, he uses his new persona to seduce the woman, knowing full well what he wants it to lead to.

The fact that we know all of this, plus practically all of what happened in the past that links the two, and have clues to what the future holds, all within the first ten per cent of this book, shows us we are in the hands of a confident author, and one with a brave and interesting story to tell us.

It is a little on the slight side, the story - by halfway there is no real surprise as to the exact motives behind the revenge, so I can't really describe it as a thriller, but all the same it is compelling reading. His and hers first-person narratives alternate chapters, sometimes telling of the same encounters from the different viewpoints, and often intercut with flashbacks to the unhappy beginnings of her adult life.

These points of view show the versatility of Glaister, as the character of Rupert rings perfectly true, like all the males present. I could say the same for Nina, but for one thing. Now, I have no sense of smell to speak of, but all the same it would appear Nina has a phenomenal olfactory ability. She can instantly smell changes in emotion on the sweat of those people next to her. She would never walk through a grassy meadow, it would smell of dozens of other things as well. And when she comes to sense feelings through touching a magazine ("it had the soft and weary texture of waiting-room magazines, saturated with boredom and stress") you seek for clues to more super-powers. Perhaps it was just misfortune that I picked up on this, and I'm welcome to take it as a sign of how perfectly the story's world has been realised, but trust me it's there and there too often.

Apart from that there is little to fault, although I remained unconvinced that someone - even someone wanting a quiet life - would fall for an ornithologist.

This novel reads very entertainingly, and has certainly made me interested in more of this author's fiction. There are many elements - her and her boyfriend's first unhappy sub-plot, the chubby and over-happy work colleague from chick-lit but much better - that make it a complete and engaging story. If the ending didn't seem a little unsurprising, and a bit catholic (for reasons I daren't divulge), I would say it came too soon.

I would like to give my thanks to the publishers for sending this volume to the Bookbag.

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Buy Nina Todd Has Gone by Lesley Glaister at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Nina Todd Has Gone by Lesley Glaister at


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