Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my book review of Jane Corry’s fantastic psychological thriller, ‘The Dead Ex’. This one is getting 5 stars from me – I absolutely loved it! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
HE CHEATED. HE LIED . . . HE DIED.
Vicki’s husband David once promised to love her in sickness and in health. But after a brutal attack left her suffering with epilepsy, he ran away with his mistress.
So when Vicki gets a call one day to say that he’s missing, her first thought is ‘good riddance’. But then the police find evidence suggesting that David is dead. And they think Vicki had something to do with it.
What really happened on the night of David’s disappearance?
And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself?
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Explores the theme of childhood trauma, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Includes mother/daughter separation and the subsequent horrors that occur in foster placements. Explores the theme of mental and physical illness, particularly the stigma attached to adult epilepsy. Explores the trauma surrounding pregnancy issues and loss of a baby. Includes scenes detailing physical violence and crime, and explores what life is like in prison. Includes explicit scenes of a sexual nature.
‘The Dead Ex’ (June 2018) is Jane Corry’s third book, following on from ‘My Husband’s Wife’ (August 2016) and ‘Blood Sisters’ (June 2017). She has also written a short story titled ‘The Killing Type’, which was released in May 2018. Her upcoming novel is due to be released in Summer 2019. Jane Corry is a former magazine journalist who spent three years working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men.
The book has received fantastic reviews, from the likes of Closer: “Fans of psychological thrillers will be hooked after the first page” and Sunday Times: “Gleefully relishes twists.” Many fellow authors have also praised the book, such as B.A. Paris: “Compulsive, edgy, and some fabulous twists that I didn’t see coming!”, Peter James: “The Dead Ex totally hooked me” and Cara Hunter: “Few writers can match Jane Corry in her compelling portrayals of damaged women and their dangerous liaisons”.
‘The Dead Ex’ tells the story of Vicki, who the police suspect is responsible in some way for the disappearance of her ex-husband David. Vicki has a dark past and suffers from epilepsy, and sometimes her medication makes her forgetful … She protests innocence, but is there more to her than meets the eye?
Part One is split into two first-person narratives perspectives: Vicki and Scarlet. Vicki’s narration is mostly told in the present day, with some flashbacks to the past, whereas Scarlet’s narration occurs over ten years earlier. Part Two sees Scarlet’s narration swapped for Helen’s first-person narration, which starts about a year before David’s disappearance. In Part Three, Vicki and Helen’s narrations meet in the present day. The narrative is fairly simply to follow but still has an element of complexity, which I really appreciated.
My favourite character in the novel is difficult to pick, as I really enjoyed them all! But I think that Scarlet takes the win for me. Scarlet has a very difficult childhood, and I really felt a great deal of sympathy for her. Her mother is a drug-dealer who gets her to help out with her deals for her, and she experiences things that no child should have to experience. She really loves her mother, but they end up getting separated and Scarlet is sent to various foster homes. She has a really hard time in her foster homes too, and struggles to adjust. She’s just an innocent young girl who has been tainted by the horrors she has experienced, and I really wished I could just give her a big hug and tell her that everything would be okay in the end.
Vicki is a fantastically-written character. She’s a self-employed aromatherapist who suffers with epilepsy, with her seizures starting after a brutal attack. She lives alone and her ex-husband David has remarried and they now live in Vicki’s old home. Vicki appears very strong and resilient on the surface, but when she discovers David’s disappearance, her true emotions begin to come out and it becomes clear that she still loves him deeply. There are true horrors in Vicki’s past which I really enjoyed reading all about. She’s a very complex, three-dimensional character, and there is so much more to her than first meets the eye.
Helen is a young, adolescent girl who is completing work experience at David’s company. She’s eager to please David and does everything she can to get close to him, sometimes with success and sometimes without. When David disappears she is lost and unsure of what to do, and she attempts to take matters into her own hands. She’s a head-strong, determined character who will let nothing stand in her way of getting what she wants. Helen is also a very well-written character.
Other characters in the novel include: Tanya (David’s present wife), Scarlet’s mother, various members of the police force, Patrick (Vicki’s ex-colleague), and various inmates at the prison. I don’t want to go into too much detail about other characters in the novel as I don’t want to give any spoilers away! All of the characters are essential to the novel, and all bring something fresh and exciting.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) The novel explores the theme of childhood trauma in great detail, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The novel includes mother/daughter separation, and explores the subsequent horrors that occur in foster placements, including encouragement to shoplift, sexual abuse and arson. The theme of mental and physical illness is explored in great detail, and the novel pays particular attention to the stigma surrounding adult epilepsy, which I really appreciated. The novel also details the trauma surrounding pregnancy issues and the loss of a baby after a brutal physical attack. Scenes that occur inside a prison, detailing horrific crimes and physical violence, are distressing at times. Corry explores what life is really like in prison, and issues such as mother/baby separation, inmate pregnancy and smuggling are explored. Finally, the novel includes explicit scenes of a sexual nature. There are a lot of issues touched upon in this novel, but all are dealt with in enough detail and with appropriate sensitivity. If any of these issues may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, it becomes more and more difficult to know which characters to trust. Vicki continues to protest her innocence, but is she behind David’s disappearance? It is unclear how all of the characters are related until very late on in the book, and the story gets more and more complicated. Will we find out the truth about what happened to David?
So, let’s talk about the ending! There are multiple shocking twists that occur towards the end of the novel – including one on the very last page! Just when you think you know which direction the book is going on, Corry throws another curveball into the mix and completely changes the course of the novel. All the characters come together in the most astonishing way, and we finally discover the truth about what happened to David. I really enjoyed the ending and felt that it tied everything together brilliantly.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly those that are very twisty! This novel is absolutely sensational, and I thoroughly enjoyed every single word. This is a 5 star read for me, and I simply couldn’t fault it if I tried! This is the second book of Jane Corry’s that I’ve read, and both have been 5 stars, so I have high expectations for Corry’s books to come!
Happy reading 🙂