Source: Review copy
Publication: 12 October 2021 from Red Dog Press
My thanks to Red Dog Press for an early copy for review
‘Your secret didn’t die with me.’
The mysterious note tucked inside the pages of a recently returned book leaves librarian, Morag McLaughlin, chilled to the bone. She knows it was meant for her.
Someone out there knows her darkest secrets and they could destroy everything.
Torn apart from her own family, she will stop at nothing to create a perfect new one.
Why are they all so ungrateful? She’s only looking after them…
You Need Me has a heart as black as pitch and a core of cold hard steel. Sharon Bairden’s dark and twisted story combines a number of flawed, difficult people whose lives have been blighted by early lives full of cruelty, neglect and a lack of love and care.
No-one here is quite who they seem to be and each of the characters has a secret they are hiding from the others. In what, it is becoming clear, is a signature approach, Sharon Bairden combines real life social problems with a disturbing psychological thriller.
Morag is a librarian, running an open and welcoming group for those who find the library a refuge from the cold, a place to go to keep warm when they have no money, knowing a welcome awaits them. But Morag is picky about who she is willing to include in her group and lonely Jess, waitress at a nearby café, is not one of the chosen few.
Morag’s group have different problems. Drugs, mental health issues, poverty and loneliness all play their part in increasing the vulnerability of the individuals who gravitate towards warmth and human company.
But no-one here is exactly who they claim to be and every one of them has secrets. These are people you won’t easily take to; people with a hardened crust that is difficult to break through but who are still craving the high that making a connection brings, which makes them all the more vulnerable to coercive control.
Sharon Bairden’s dark and penetrating novel brings home the harsh realities of what it means to be dispossessed and forgotten or let down by society and how easy it is for these forgotten outcasts to become the tools of those with malign intent.
You Need Me is not a gentle read. It is deep, twisted, dark and it grips the heart in a steel vice. But it is also a stark and bitter condemnation of the way we treat those less fortunate than ourselves. And, though in this novel the library group is imbued with sinister intent, Bairden underlines the importance of libraries as an asset for the whole community and a lifeline for those for who have little else. If you’re in Glasgow, (and elsewhere) this is a lesson our politicians need to learn in a hurry.
By day, Sharon Bairden is the Chief Officer of a small, local independent advocacy service and has a passion for human rights; by night she has a passion for all things criminal. She blogs over at Chapterinmylife and is delighted to be crossing over to the other side of the fence to become a writer. Sharon lives on the outskirts of Glasgow, has two grown up children, a grandson, a Golden Labrador and a cat. She spends most of her spare time doing all things bookish, from reading to attending as many book festivals and launches as she can. She has been known to step out of her comfort zone on the odd occasion and has walked over burning coals and broken glass – but not at the same time!