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Book Review: ‘The Rumour’ by Lesley Kara

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review for Lesley Kara’s debut Psychological Thriller, ‘The Rumour’, which is due to be released next week on 27th December 2018. I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC by Bantam Press – thanks so much for that! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…



the rumour

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains repeated references to a gruesome crime, in which a child was stabbed to death. Contains references to domestic abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual violence. Explores the theme of physical illness, particularly advanced cancer. Includes scenes of a sexual nature.


‘The Rumour’ is Lesley Kara’s debut novel, and is due to be released on 27th December 2018. Kara is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives on the North Essex coast.

Many authors have praised the novel, such as Paula Hawkins: “In this chilling tale of paranoia, suspicion and accusation, Lesley Kara keeps you guessing until the final page”, Fiona Barton: “A great debut with a slyly clever premise and a rollercoaster ride to the very last sentence”, Colette McBeth: “The Rumour depicts the prejudices and secrets that simmer in a small seaside town to devastating effect” and Shari Lapena: “An intriguing premise, a creeping sense of dread, and a twist you won’t see coming!”

‘The Rumour’ explores the devastating effects that a seemingly casual piece of gossip can have on a tight-knit community. When Joanna hears a rumour, she can’t help but pass it on at her book club…but little does she know the horror this has unleashed. Is a notorious child killer really living in the seaside town of Flinstead? And just how dangerous is she?

The narrative is told from the first-person perspective of Joanna, and we consistently follow Joanna throughout the book. Some sections are also included that are narrated from the perspective of the child killer. The narrative is mainly told in the present tense, with some allusions to the past included. The narrative is very simple to follow, yet is still very effective.

My favourite character in the novel is Joanna. She’s a single mother and a part-time estate agent, and her son Alfie is her entire world. She’s a fantastic mother who always puts her son before herself, and his safety is the most important thing in the world to her. She attempts to make friends with some of the other mothers at school, which leads her to joining a book club and a babysitting circle. She mindlessly repeats a piece of gossip she has heard, in an attempt to make herself more interesting and likeable. Once she realises she has opened up a can of worms, she is apologetic and tries to do what’s right. She’s a very down to earth, believable character, and I really really liked her.

Michael is Alfie’s father, who has always remained on very good terms with Joanna. He’s a freelance journalist with a lot of important contacts, and the child killer rumour soon brings him back to Flinstead, and running back to Joanna too. At first I questioned his intentions – it’s very convenient that he wants Joanna back as soon as he gets an exciting new case in the same village. But it soon becomes clear that he’s a really kind, genuine guy, and he’s a very good father too. Michael becomes obsessed with finding out if the rumours are too, at the potential expense of his own family’s safety.

Joanna’s mother is kind and caring, and adores her daughter and grandson. She lives next door to Joanna, meaning she can see them whenever she wants. She leads a quiet life with her dog, and prefers to stay away from the dangerous rumours and accusations that have begun in Flinstead. When Michael walks back into Joanna’s life, she’s rightfully skeptical, but in time she looks past this, as her daughter’s happiness is of paramount importance. Joanna is a complicated character though, and she has some secrets lurking beneath the surface.

Other characters in the novel include Joanna’s friends from book club and the babysitting circle, and various other occupants of Flinstead. The cast of characters in the novel is relatively small, but all bring something fresh and exciting, and all play a vital role to the story.

** TRIGGER WARNING ** The novel contains repeated references to a gruesome crime, in which a young child was stabbed to death. It explores how the victim’s family have been torn apart by their grief, and how the perpetrator’s life has been affected, including the logistics of a victim protection scheme. The novel also contains references to domestic abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse – although this does not occur until near the end of the novel. The theme of physical illness is explored in the novel, particularly with regards to a very advanced form of cancer. Finally, the novel includes scenes of a sexual nature. All of these issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity, but if they may trigger a negative response for you, I suggest you skip this book.

As the narrative motors onwards, the prejudice and accusations within the small community get increasingly worse. It becomes more and more unclear who the child killer might be, and whether they are actually living in Flinstead at all. Strange things begin to happen in the community, and it’s only a matter of time before something really bad happens…

So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a killer twist which you will definitely never see coming. I was so shocked by this revelation, and I certainly could have never anticipated that. There’s a dramatic end scene in which all tension reaches it’s peak, and Joanna must fight to protect those she loves from harm. My eyes were glued to the page, and I just couldn’t put it down! Even though it was extremely dramatised, I really enjoyed the ending.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy Psychological Thrillers, particularly those that are set in tight-knit communities. Fantastic characters, plenty of suspense and tension, and a killer twist at the end – what more could you want?! My only criticism is regarding the believability of all the events in the novel – but then again, this is Fiction of course! An utterly compelling read.









Happy reading 🙂

4 thoughts on “Book Review: ‘The Rumour’ by Lesley Kara

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