There’s the obvious story. And then there’s the truth.
Alex lives a comfortable life with his wife Beth in the leafy suburb of Silver Vale. Fine, so he’s not the most extrovert guy on the street, he prefers to keep himself to himself, but he’s a good husband and an easy-going neighbour.
That’s until Beth announces the creation of a nature trail on a local site that’s been disused for decades and suddenly Alex is a changed man. Now he’s always watching. Questioning. Struggling to hide his dread . . .
As the landscapers get to work, a secret threatens to surface from years ago, back in Alex’s twenties when he got entangled with a seductive young woman called Marina, who threw both their lives into turmoil.
And who sparked a police hunt for a murder suspect that was never quite what it seemed.
It still isn’t.
Yes oh yes! Lemme tell you this one’s not to be missed! I was introduced to author Louise Candlish only last year (first I received a copy of her Quickreads short story The Skylight and then I read The Heights) but this one firmly cements it that she’s one to stay on my readlist going forward.
The Only Suspect is told in a dual timeline. The present day handles Alex’s struggle with Zara, the woman who’s temporarily staying with him and his wife Beth. She’s nosy, outstaying her welcome and she basically turns his wife against him. The only upside of it is that Alex is also nervous about the work on the eco trail and Zara helps to keep his wife’s focus off himself. Then the story jumps to the ’90s with Rick meeting a young woman named Marina and there’s a bit of a romance that develops between them. He then discovers that Marina has a secret but Rick wouldn’t be the man he is to just let her go.
I loved how the author invited me to constantly examine my loyalty towards the characters. Is Rick a good guy or not? If ‘Alex’ did kill someone, could it be somehow understood? Did he let an innocent person go to prison? I seriously thought I had made all the right connections between Alex and Rick and the situation that was coming back to haunt them but I was SO WRONG. The twist in the story was jawdropping. I flipped the page a few times back and fro to see if I had not imagined this turn in the story.
I loved the intricateness of the story, the deceipt and the lies and the final twist that made just perfect sense looking back to everything that happened to Alex. The present was maybe a bit slower going in terms of giving up its secrets so I was initially more engrossed in the past with the difficult situation for Marina and Rick, but it definitely catches up in the final part of the novel and it was well worth the wait. I want more of this!
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Simon and Schuster via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.