Source : Review copy
Publication: 4th October 2018 from Head of Zeus
How do you know who to trust…
…when you don’t even know who you are?
You are outside your front door.
There are strangers in your house.
Then you realise. You can’t remember your name.
She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.
Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.
One of them is lying.
I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book, but it sure as hell surprised me. Not least because this is a story that takes off in a wholly different direction to the one you think you are travelling to.
Written in the first and third person, our narrator is a young woman, newly arrived into the UK, she thinks from Berlin, who has lost her handbag, passport, keys and money – and her memory. She turns up in a small Wiltshire village at the door of Tony and Laura’s house because she says, she remembers living there. It was her house. There begins the story of our unreliable narrator; but whether she is unreliable because she simply can’t remember who she is or whether something else is going on, it is hard to tell.
Forget My Name is an interesting, easy to read psychological thriller that certainly kept my attention throughout. It is quite a complex, sometimes convoluted, story that keeps the reader wondering where it is going, but is also written in short, meaty chapters.
Well written and with a complex plot, it does rely somewhat on a coincidence, but if you can set that aside, it’s a cracking read and a new and inventive way of bringing this kind of crime to our attention. What kind of crime? That would be a spoiler, so I’ll say no more.
Monroe gives us an intriguing cast of characters. Tony is a photographer who runs a vegan café in the village. Laura teaches yoga in the village and they have recently bought their cottage. Luke is a hack turned motor mag editor in order to care for his son after the death of his wife from a brain aneurysm. Then there’s Sean, the Irishman and conspiracy theorist who sees Russian spies everywhere he looks – something about the proximity to Salisbury, I guess.
Each of these characters has their own ideas about who the new woman with no memory could be, but when the local doctor suggests her theory, it is not long before the police become involved and our mystery woman becomes the object of very real fear and suspicion in this small community.
I enjoyed the contrast between the characters of the two main police staff and their relationship with each other and with the characters in the village which all added to a sense of authenticity.
Monroe keeps the reveal back to the end of the novel and when it comes it is pretty stunning and very hard hitting. I won’t forget this one in a hurry, even if it does have that coincidence.
Verdict: Surprising, dark and very, very twisty, this is one hell of a roller-coaster ride.
About J.S. Monroe
J.S.Monroe is the pseudonym of the British author Jon Stock. Jon is the author of six spy novels and two standalone psychological thrillers, Find Me, published in 2017, and Forget My Name, to be published in October 2018. Both are written under the pseudonym J.S. Monroe. He lives in Wiltshire with his wife and children.
After reading English at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Jon worked as a freelance journalist in London, writing features for most of Britain’s national newspapers, as well as contributing to BBC Radio 4. He was also chosen for Carlton TV’s acclaimed screenwriters course. In 1995 he lived in Kochi in Kerala, where he worked on the staff of India’s The Week magazine. Between 1998 and 2000, he was a foreign correspondent in Delhi, writing for the Daily Telegraph, South China Morning Post and the Singapore Straits Times. He also wrote the Last Word column in The Week magazine from 1995 to 2012.
On his return to Britain in 2000, he worked on various Saturday sections of the Telegraph before taking up a staff job as editor of its flagship Weekend section in 2005, which he oversaw for five years. He left Weekend and the Telegraph in 2010 to finish writing his Daniel Marchant trilogy and returned to the Telegraph in February 2013 to oversee the Telegraph‘s digital books channel. In May 2014 he was promoted to Executive Head of Weekend and Living, editing the paper’s Saturday and Sunday print supplements, as well as a range of digital lifestyle channels. He left the paper in October 2015 to resume his thriller-writing career.
Follow J.S. Monroe on Twitter @JSThrillers