Anna lives a solitary existence, taking solace in order and routine. Her only friend is the lonely old lady next door. She doesn’t like to let people to get too close – she knows how much damage they can do.
Then one ordinary day Anna witnesses a devastating road accident and recognises the driver as Carla, the woman who ruined her life all those years ago. Now it’s Anna’s chance to set things straight but her revenge needs to be executed carefully …
First she needs to get to know Liam, the man injured in the accident. She needs to follow the police investigation. She needs to watch Carla from the shadows…
But as Anna’s obsession with Carla escalates, her own secrets start to unravel. Is Carla really dangerous or does Anna need to worry about someone far closer to home?
Anna Clarke is a 33 year old postie. She knows her patch and her customers really well – who shops at Amazon and where they want their parcels left; which customer requires that extra bit of help. Though she lives alone, with only her next door neighbour, an elderly lady, for the company that passes for her social life, she is as ok as she expects to be, given her circumstances.
Anna’s circumstances are grim. She lives alone with her cat Albert for company following the death of her mother and younger brother, Danny, thirteen years ago. From her neighbour, Joan, we learn of the circumstances of Anna’s childhood; of her mother’s split from her father and the subsequent string of men that used to visit the house. Her abusive childhood, together with the death of estranged father and then her mother and brother has left her mentally fragile, and with OCD.
On her way to work, Anna sees a car collide with a motorcycle and when she rushes to help she is astounded to recognise the driver of the car, Carla Bevin. She recognises Carla as the driver of the car that ruined her life thirteen years ago – a woman she spent years searching for and thought she would never find.
As she comforts the injured motorcyclist, Liam, Anna’s mind is whirling with thoughts about how to hold Carla to account for the accident that killed her mother and brother and sent her into years of therapy.
Anna waits with Liam until the ambulance arrives, then starts a series of hospital visits with him in order to make sure the police investigating and that Carla will finally get what she deserves. Liam lives with his grandmother, Ivy and seems pleased that Anna is visiting him. Anna learns that Carla is now going by the name Amanda, but is unprepared to find that she is also visiting Liam, ostensibly to apologise, but Anna sees that they are clearly getting on a little too well for her liking.
Anna is consumed with the desire to finally get justice for what Carla did all those years ago and she is prepared to give up everything to achieve her aim.
She begins to ingratiate herself with Liam and his grandmother, in order to monitor the police progress. As the novel progresses we learn more about Carla, a school psychologist and about Anna and Danny’s childhood.
As Anna obsesses more and more you can see how she begins to deteriorate and Kim Slater eloquently conveys a portrait of a woman slowly disintegrating and losing her grip on reality. Her characters are vividly drawn and the plot is exceptionally well crafted.
What starts as a conventional revenge thriller develops into a narrative that twists and turns until you cannot know on whose narrative it is safe to rely. The plot is never predictable, but it is a fast and compelling read and a book that you will not want to put down until you have unravelled its last mystery.
This is an impressive debut novel that keeps the reader guessing right to the last page.
Safe With Me by K.L. Slater is published on 3 November 2016 by Bookouture