Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Lesley Kara’s latest psychological thriller, ‘Who Did You Tell?’ I absolutely loved this book – so much more than I originally anticipated! So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…
Every town has its secrets. Lesley Kara knows them all . . .
It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around.
Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged.
But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.
Some mistakes, you have to pay for . . .
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Explores the theme of substance abuse, specifically alcoholism. References to physical violence and criminal behaviour are included in the novel. The theme of mental illness is explored within the novel, including scenes of suicide.
‘Who Did You Tell?’ (January 2020) is Lesley Kara’s second novel, following on from ‘The Rumour’ (December 2018). Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives on the North Essex coast with her family.
The book has received positive praise, from the likes of Daily Express: “An inventive and compelling psychological thriller,” Prima: “A fast, pacey and gripping read” and Sunday Mirror: “A claustrophobic thriller with some clever twists.” Fellow author Lee Child also enjoyed the novel, labelling it: “Instantly immersive, then intriguing, then insanely suspenseful, then … the truth.”
‘Who Did You Tell?’ follows the life of Astrid, a recovering alcoholic who has recently moved back in with her mother. She is desperately trying to turn her life around and fight the constant temptation to drink – but somebody is following her, and is determined to make her pay for her past mistakes…
The narrative is told from the first-person perspective of Astrid throughout. The reader is given an in-depth perspective to her thoughts, feelings and emotions, as she struggles with her inner demons. The story is told entirely in the present-day, with some allusions to the past. The narrative is really easy to follow, yet still very effective.
Astrid is my favourite character in the novel. She’s strong-willed and determined, and has done exceptionally well so far in her recovery from alcoholism. She is committed to turning her life around and starting afresh, far away from all the mistakes she made in her past. However, Astrid is actually extremely vulnerable, and is still often overcome with the desire to drink. Each day, she must battle with her own mind and resist the temptations. It soon becomes clear that somebody is following Astrid, and she understandably becomes very tense and agitated. She must be careful with who she decides to trust, as not everybody in this sleepy seaside town is who they claim to be. Astrid is an exceptionally well-written character, and I really rooted for her throughout the novel.
A fellow former addict, Helen, befriends Astrid after meeting her at an AA group. They become close and form an unlikely friendship. Helen is kind-hearted and loving, and she helps Astrid fight against her temptations. Astrid confides in Helen about her problems, and Helen offers her support and advice in return. But it soon becomes clear that Helen has her own issues, and is a very troubled individual. Helen has many secrets lurking below the surface, and there is a much darker side to her character. She is an extremely interesting and well-written character, and I really enjoyed finding out more about her as the novel went on.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** This novel explores the theme of substance abuse in great detail, specifically all the problems that come with alcoholism. The hardships of recovery are touched upon, especially the issues of temptation and desire. References to physical violence and criminal behaviour are included in the novel. Finally, the theme of mental illness is explored within the novel, including a scene of suicide. All of these issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity – but if you feel that any may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors on, Astrid’s stalker becomes more persistent, and more dangerous. Astrid will do everything she can to prevent the secrets of her past from being unearthed, and she begins to fear for her safety. Just how far is this person willing to go to achieve justice?
So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a dramatic end scene in which Astrid must fight for survival. All the secrets of her past are revealed in the most astonishing way, and she must battle between doing what’s right and saving herself. The identity behind her attacker is revealed, and the result is very unexpected – I really didn’t see that coming! I was really satisfied with the ending, and felt that it tied things together brilliantly.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly ones that deal with difficult themes i.e. addiction, alcoholism. The protagonist is fantastically-written, and there is plenty of suspense and mystery throughout – including some surprising twists and turns. For me, this book was lacking something (but I’m not quite sure what!) and so I am unable to award it 5 stars, however it gets a solid 4.5! An utterly compelling psychological thriller.
Happy reading 🙂