"You Belong To Me" Samantha Hayes
I am a Samantha Hayes fan and although I have only read a couple of her titles, I have bought more and am saving them up for when I need a "go to" thriller that I know will grip me and hold me in a suitable mode of suspense and tension for the duration of the pages.
This is the second in a series featuring DI Lorraine Fisher, but I haven't read the first book and it didn't affect my understanding - it seemed to work equally well as a standalone novel. It was interesting see read a police procedural thriller from Hayes as the other titles I have read by her do not have a detective as a protagonist. Hayes has obviously researched her writing and the all the details regarding the police investigation are faultless.
Hayes doesn't hold back - the opening of the book feels like she's pulled a pin on a grenade and lobbed it straight into her reader's path. Several different plot lines erupt in the opening chapters and the repercussions continue to rise and ripple like a tsunami until the final pages - all 480 of them! I literally did not know what had hit me when I started reading!
The prologue and first chapter reminded me of Elizabeth Haynes "Into the Darkest Corner" as we meet a character clearly broken by a dangerously controlling relationship. Hayes establishes fear, tension and suspense immediately. Then, in Chapter 2, we meet DI Lorraine Fisher at an appointment with her Doctor where she confesses to suffering from anxiety. She seems very much under pressure following a murder case where she feels she failed the victims and thinks she did not do enough to save them. As well as her demanding job she is juggling a family of teenage girls and her husband also works on the force, which seems to provoke further tension between them. It seems to be very popular to have a troubled female detective as a protagonist who fights their own inner demons alongside the real ones, so this book really does include all the necessary ingredients for a gripping thriller and Hayes has created a compelling detective with whom we are invited to relate to and invest in. Although Fisher's situation is complicated and we become very involved in her emotional fragility, this is clearly justified as I'm guessing Hayes has plans for subsequent books and an ongoing series. Fisher has to be very three dimensional and intriguing enough to pull this off, which I think she is.
Isabel is equally demanding on the reader. Hearing of her parent's death while in India, she comes home with the assistance of an apparent stranger who then proceeds to offer her further hospitality. I was a little dubious about her willingness to accept so much from Owen and of some of her decisions, but I was hooked enough to want to read on and was happy to overlook a few slightly contrived moments for the greater good of a well paced read. Isabel is clearly devastated, upset, grieving and also hiding from a deep and dark past. Her narrative is confused and peppered with clues, hints, references which all come together at the end and clearly Hayes has done this deliberately to develop character and tension, but it does mean the book requires 100% of your concentration!
This is quite a long book at around 480 pages and there is a lot going on. Each character is significantly complex and battling many issues. Each has an intense back story and each story thread is absorbing and compelling. I did find that I had to concentrate quite a lot more on keeping up with everything that was happening and a few times had to be really clear which narrative I was involved in as the chapters alternate between Lorraine and Isabel and both are written in first person.
Ultimately I liked the incredible twists and turns that flung my mind around faster than a high speed carousel. The ending was suitably shocking and rewarding. I read it relatively quickly which helped me to keep track of everyone - particularly as the reliability of the character's narratives are discredited and truth behind their stories are quite intertwined. Some of the reviewers have criticised the plot for being a little too far fetched. Perhaps this is so. Hayes has been ambitious and has juggled a lot but I was happy to be carried along for the ride. I mean, it's fiction after all and for me, a bit of pure escapism.
I do have to say I preferred "Until You're Mine" and "In Too Deep" (which I gave 4/5 and 5/5 stars respectively) and they are both stand alone thrillers. I am looking forward to working my way through Hayes other titles as I think she is a good writer of contemporary psychological thrillers.
"You Belong To Me" was published in 2015 by Random House.
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