Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all well. Today I’m posting my book review of Gillian McAllister’s excellent second novel, ‘Anything You Do Say’. I reviewed her first novel, ‘Everything But The Truth’, here. I was sent an ARC of ‘Anything You Do Say’ and took part in the blog tour (you can find it here), and ended up loving the book so much that I just had to review it in full for you! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.
But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.
Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?
‘Anything You Do Say’ is due to be released tomorrow (19th October 2017), and is Gillian McAllister’s second novel. Her first novel, ‘Everything But The Truth’, was released in March 2017. Her debut was an instant success and was a Sunday Times bestseller. McAllister lives in Birmingham with her boyfriend, and also works as a lawyer.
The novel received positive praise from many fellow authors. Claire Douglas labelled it “A Sliding Doors type thriller with a moral dilemma at its heart”, Imran Mahmood called it “An expertly crafted novel full of drama and tension”, Claire Kendal said “The novel is ingenious”, and Holly Seddon called it “An addictive, exciting and devilishly clever book”.
‘Anything You Do Say’ is a compelling Psychological Thriller with a thought-provoking morality at its core. The narrative follows the protagonist Joanna, who is forced to make a life-changing decision when she is involved in a terrible crime. But which path will she take, and will it be the right one?
The novel is made up of two consecutive narratives throughout – “Conceal” (in which Joanna hides the truth) and “Reveal” (in which Joanna reveals the truth). Different events happen depending on which choice Joanna makes. Both narratives quickly pick up pace and gain momentum, and come together in an astonishing way at the end.
Joanna is my newest all-time favourite character. She unfortunately plays a key part in a devastating crime and becomes subject to many hardships as a result of this. She’s a genuinely good, kind character, who was perhaps just in the wrong place at the wrong time (or was she?!). She is devoted to her husband and family, and is hard-working and ambitious. I really admired her strength and bravery as a character – she has to make some awful decisions that I would definitely struggle with myself! Joanna is treated very unfairly by society, and at times I felt a great deal of sympathy towards her.
Joanna’s husband Reuben also has a large presence in the novel. He holds strong views and opinions about certain things in life, and Joanna worries whether he will stick by her throughout her ordeal. He appears cold and guarded at times, but it soon becomes clear that he’s a very good person deep down. I felt a wide array of emotions throughout the novel towards Reuben.
Other characters in the novel include: Laura (Joanna’s best friend), Jonty (Laura’s other half), Ed (Joanna’s boss at the library), Sadiq/Imran (the victim), Wilf (Laura’s brother), and various police officers and lawyers.
This novel is an important read for multiple reasons. It is indeed an action-packed Thriller full of suspense and mystery – but it also poses some important, thought-provoking moral questions. Should we always be held accountable for our actions? How much should we rely on our own individual judgements? Is adhering to the rules and regulations of society always the best thing to do? The novel also highlights flaws within society, such as within the law and the criminal justice system, and at times I thought about if the law is always “fair”. Joanna’s actions made me think deeply about these issues, and I really appreciated that.
Both the “Conceal” and “Reveal” narratives increase in suspense, building to almighty climaxes, but in very different ways. One choice that Joanna makes (either to conceal or reveal the crime) sets off a downward spiral of terrible events, and both narratives contain multiple twists and turns. It appears that Joanna is doomed either way, and there were points in the novel when I feared that she would never recover. I was absolutely glued to this book and couldn’t put it down, and was dying to know which choice Joanna actually made.
So, let’s talk about the ending! Both narratives clash together in a very surprising way. The ending definitely wasn’t quite what I expected, but I was still very satisfied with the way that events turned out. McAllister still left some things ambiguous and it isn’t certain exactly what will happen to Joanna in the future – I need a sequel!
Overall, this novel is a must-read for lovers of Psychological Thrillers. I absolutely loved the structure of the narratives, and felt that this was innovative and extremely intelligent. The novel is full of action and suspense, but also poses some important moral questions that I believe we should all consider. McAllister’s writing is extremely clever and skillful, with many implied messages and meanings at the core. A fantastic read that I highly recommend!
Happy reading 🙂