Maureen Lee has written a great many nostalgic family saga type books about her native Liverpool, but this is a different kind of story, set in Cornwall, written some years ago and now self published. Or rather, it was - it seems to have disappeared from Amazon, and the author's website has no information about other plans, so I'm not sure whether it's about to be republished or whether she simply withdrew it from sale.
This book has ‘THRILLER’ on the cover in capital letters,
but it wasn't, in the end, a particularly thrilling experience. The
story of three sixteen-year-old girls, not children and not yet women,
and what happened during their last summer of innocence and the secret
they kept for many years afterwards, is not an original idea, and for
most of the book the story crawls along predictably and uninterestingly.
The author has made some attempt to give the three distinctive
personalities, and to some extent this works but there wasn't quite as
much depth as I would have liked to any of them. It's difficult,
admittedly, to describe severe depression convincingly. Daisy should
have been a sympathetic character, but somehow we never quite get under
her skin, although, to be fair, this is partly because we only ever see
her through Norah’s eyes.
Fortunately, there are some twists at
the end which raise the book above the merely pedestrian. It isn't a bad
book, actually, it's a workmanlike and readable affair, with characters
which are moderately realistic, a plot that rises above the hackneyed
and a comfortable writing style. There are numerous minor typos, words
missing and the like, but nothing drastic. It's disappointing, however,
that it never quite manages the depth that would have made it memorable.
The way in which the three women are affected by their experience and
how it influences their lives is a theme that the author touches on, but
never manages to imbue with the emotional resonance it deserves. Nor is
there much sense of time or place, just a few topical issues tossed for
dramatic effect. So I never much cared about the characters and it
wasn’t particularly thrilling, but nevertheless I kept turning the
pages, and it was an easy enough read. Three stars.