Source: Review copy
Publication: 13 May 2021 from Quercus
My thanks to the publisher for an advance copy for review
He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.
Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.
Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.
But it was all built on the perfect lie.
I love the way Joanne Spain’s mind works. She is the twistiest, most devilish of writers who enjoys leading her readers up several garden paths only to confound them; to leave them looking puzzled as they try to figure out why the garden is suddenly full of rabbit holes they have an insatiable need to explore.
Erin Kennedy had a fantastic life. A job in publishing in the Big Apple, a man she loves who is her protector and who protects and serves in his role as a homicide cop. They live in Newport Rhode Island and love their lives. Then one morning, Erin answers the door to Danny’s colleague, Ben Mitchell, accompanied by a couple of other police officers. Danny, who has been getting ready to head for work, walks to the balcony and jumps to his death.
Why then is Erin charged with his murder?
Told from three perspectives and two timelines this is a book you have to focus on with your full attention. The narrative consists of Erin on the day of Danny’s death and what happens thereafter and then Erin a year later, in custody and on trial for Danny’s murder. There is also an account from Ally, concerning events at Harvard University.
Bewildered, shocked and grieving, Erin tries to find out what on earth has been going on, but the more she tries to get information from Ben, the more he and his colleagues clam up. Danny, it seems, was keeping many secrets and Erin is left trying to piece together the scraps of information she can turn up in order to find out who this man was that she married; she really didn’t know him at all.
After the dramatic start, the plot builds gradually to a gripping level of suspense as Jo Spain weaves between the time leading up to that fateful morning and the time that followed, through unexpected twists and shocking revelations. And just when you think you know where the plot is going, she throws in a rapid turn to spin you off track. Also weaving through Danny and Erin’s story is an older thread, involving two female college students and it’s not until later that the significance of this is revealed.
Joanne Spain does a terrific job with Erin’s character. An Irish woman who has moved to America following a family tragedy, Erin only really ever belonged because of her marriage to Danny. Now, cut off from his friends, living in snooty Rhode Island where money and privilege mean everything, she finds herself alone and with no-one to turn to, needing to understand what has happened and who Danny really was.
You root for her as she tries to uncover what has been going on and why Danny jumped four floors to his death. This is such an explosive, twist tale with surprises, shocking revelations and – and this is the really devilish bit – she fools you into thinking you know what’s going on, until suddenly she turns the tables and the reader is left with a face that looks like an eggy breakfast.
Verdict: Great writing, fantastic characterisation and an explosive twisty plot, cements Joanne Spain as the Queen of misdirection. Long may she reign!
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Jo Spain is a full-time writer and screenwriter. Her first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and her first psychological thriller, The Confession, was a number one bestseller in Ireland. Jo co-wrote the ground-breaking television series Taken Down, which first broadcast in Ireland in 2018. She’s now working on multiple European television projects. Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.