Source: Review copy
Publication: 30 September 2020 from Severn House
My thanks to the publisher for a copy for review purposes
Liz Zahavi is desperate. Desperate for her controlling partner, Jay, to stay with her, to actually love her. Desperate to be well again, after a recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Desperate to be understood.
Private therapy seems like the answer to her prayers, but Liz doesn’t even make it to her first appointment. Lost in a maze of country roads, she crashes her car, only to be rescued by a brooding local farmer . . . who just keeps on rescuing her. Attractive and intense, Jude is a dream, and Liz doesn’t want to wake up.
But four years ago, Jude’s perfect, pretty wife died alone in the woods near their house. And as Jude’s past boils into the present, threatening to destroy their new happiness, Liz begins to wonder what exactly her new man is capable of . . . and how far he’s willing to go.
You never quite know what you’re going to get from David Mark, and I love that. Because you do know that whatever he offers in his stand-alone novels will be compelling reading and is bound to hold your attention right through the book. There’s richness and depth to his writing, combined with a willingness to go down whatever path the story takes, that makes each book journey a fascinating one.
In Suspicious Minds, Mark beautifully portrays Liz Zahavi, a woman living with her controlling partner, Jay and enjoying her relationship with his 9 year old daughter, Anya.
Liz is also living with Borderline Personality Disorder, a mental health condition which renders her behaviour unpredictable; her actions are often impulsive and she has a tendency to say what she thinks irrespective of the consequences.
Liz knows, because Jay tells her often enough, just how lucky she is that Jay puts up with her. All he asks is that she tries to be a half decent homemaker. So Liz tries her best to be what she is not and makes an appointment with a therapist to appease Jay.
On her way to the first appointment, nervous and unsure about what she is doing, she gets lost and muddled by the sat nav and has a car accident. A collision with a rather unpleasant local land owner leaves her distressed and upset until she is rescued by Jude, a brooding, rather good looking, local farmer. There is an immediate and instinctive spark between them and Liz becomes Betsy, a different woman to the one that Jay knows.
When Liz lets Jude take over and sort everything out, she feels a strong connection to him and so when her life with Jay implodes spectacularly, it is to Jude that she turns.
At this point I wondered whether Mark was going for an intense and emotional romantic drama, but with the Hardy-esque references it was always clear that this relationship was going to have an emotional intensity that would create ripples beyond their solitary existence and that proves to be the case in spades.
For Jude is in the midst of a battle and Liz – or Betsy as she now styles herself – finds herself questioning whether she really knows this man at all. Her BPD causes her to second guess everything and when she hears things about Jude that cause her concern, and then she sees what he could be capable of, she begins to wonder what she has got herself into.
David Mark has created a great character in Liz/Betsy. A woman whose backstory is traumatic and whose BPD means that she can never quite be sure if what she thinks is related to her mental health condition or is something else entirely. This lends an unsettling and quietly disturbing air to a woman who has so much capacity for joy and love that it is upsetting to see her setbacks caused by self-doubt.
Darkness and violence enter her world with hugely distressing consequences until she does not know who to trust or whether she has made the right choice about the man she loves.
Verdict: Suspicious Minds is another cracker of a book from David Mark. Dark, absorbing and edgy, this is a psychological thriller that had me wholly in its grasp, not letting go until the last page. For all that though, it’s also clear that Mark is a romantic and that pleases me no end.
David Mark spent more than 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the internationally bestselling Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.His writing is heavily influenced by the court cases he covered: the defeatist and jaded police officers; the inertia of the justice system and the sheer raw grief of those touched by savagery and tragedy