Source: Review Copy
Publication: 28 June 2018 from Penguin
Vicki’s husband David once promised to love her in sickness and in health. But after a brutal attack left her suffering with epilepsy, he ran away with his mistress.
So when Vicki gets a call one day to say that he’s missing, her first thought is ‘good riddance’. But then the police find evidence suggesting that David is dead. And they think Vicki had something to do with it.
What really happened on the night of David’s disappearance?
And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself?
Jane Corry has proven herself to be very adept at the clever interweaving of different stories which fuse together at the critical moment, and The Dead Ex is no exception. This means that the reader needs to pay attention to each character’s story line, because it is only when you put all the parts of the puzzle together that you can see what a compelling storytelling this is. It ramps up the tension and keeps you guessing right to the last page.
Vicki is an aromatherapist living in Penzance. Suffering from epilepsy after a brutal attack in a previous job, she is trying to make a new life for herself after her husband, David, left her for another woman just as she was trying to recover from her attack. What a gent, eh? Vicki’s heart is broken as her husband beds and then weds his P.A. Tanya (men are such clichés) and now the pair live in Vicki’s old house and lead the life that Vicki used to have.
Vicki struggles with her epilepsy, not just because she has the condition, but also because the meds she is on make her prone to blanking out and forgetting things, so aromatherapy is just the kind of stress free, herbal remedy job she needs.
Then one day the Police arrive at her door. David is missing, presumed dead. The trouble is that Vicki hasn’t entirely kept away from David’s new life and now she has blanks in her memory that make it difficult for her to remember what she might have done.
Vicki’s first person narrative is complemented by another plot line, that of Scarlett. Scarlett is a wee girl, living in poverty and used by her mother as a drug mule in transactions with men she is required to call ‘uncle’. Scarlett has a terrible life and it’s not long before she ends up in the care system while her mother is locked up. This is such a heart-breaking story that you do need to have a strong constitution to read it without shedding a tear.
Then we have our third narrator, Helen Evans; a young and ambitious photographer who seeks out an internship with David, and whose agenda will prove to be the catalyst that has a profound impact on everyone involved in this story.
One of Jane Corry’s strengths is that she is able to fully flesh out her characters and whilst they are not always likeable, they are compelling and persuasive. We don’t know who is the most reliable narrator, but we want to know how these stories interleave.
As Vicki tries to plug the gaps in her memory in order to prove both to herself and to the police that she is not responsible for David’s disappearance, a chain of events will be set in motion that will end up in death and a fight for freedom.
The Dead Ex is a complex character driven narrative of mothers and daughters, love loss and betrayal.
Verdict: Complex and twisted psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.
About Jane Corry
Jane Corry is a former magazine journalist who spent three years working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men. She had never been inside a jail before and this often hair-raising experience helped inspire her Sunday Times bestselling psychological thrillers, Blood Sisters and My Husband’s Wife.
Jane is a regular life story judge for the Koestler Awards given to prisoners for art and writing. Until recently, Jane was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University, and she now runs writing workshops in her local area of Devon and speaks at literary festivals all over the world. She has three grown up children and until recently wrote the ‘Diary of a First-Time Grandmother’ column for the Daily Telegraph.
Follow Jane Corry on Twitter: @JaneCorryAuthor
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