Written by CL Taylor — Most of us know someone with an apparently perfect life. They’re happily married, with a lovely home and clever, well behaved offspring. But, as we crime fiction fans know all too well, appearances can be deceptive.
Sue Taylor has a life that many would envy. She is the wife of a successful MP, and lives in Brighton with her lovely teenage daughter, Charlotte. Everything looks rosy. Then Charlotte steps out in front of a bus and ends up in hospital, in a coma. And all evidence points to the accident being a failed suicide attempt. Sue thought she knew her 15-year-old daughter, just how could she be so wrong?
The discovery of Charlotte’s diary adds fuel to the flame of Sue’s suspicions. The stomach-churning entry, “Keeping this secret is killing me” leads the distraught mother on an increasingly manic and misinformed search for the truth. Can she get to the bottom of her daughter’s secret life? And who, if anyone, can she trust?
That plotline should be sufficient to keep any reader engrossed, but we have two story strands running here. The second drip-feeds us Sue’s back story through entries from her diary of 15 years ago, and we gradually learn that her perfect life is built on decidedly shaky foundations. Charlotte may have her secrets, but they are as nothing compared to those of her mother, who has been there, done that and got the tattered t-shirt to prove it.
If looking back on an increasingly disturbing and abusive past relationship isn’t enough, it also looks like Sue has a stalker who knows something of her past and is intent on unsettling her further. Thanks to her previous mental history, such claims are met with disbelief from husband Brian who thinks his stressed-out wife is on the verge of a breakdown and insists upon feeding her anti-depressants. As you read The Accident, it slowly becomes clear that someone from her past is seeking revenge on Sue in the cruelest way they can imagine.
This book has more dead ends than a 1960s housing estate, and as we follow Sue on her fraught journey it’s hard not to wonder if Brian is right and she really is going off the rails and imagining things. It’s an accomplished author who can offer her reader such an ebb and flow of emotions, and it came as something of a surprise to learn that, although she has previously won awards for her short stories, The Accident is CL Taylor’s debut novel. There are experienced and well known crime fiction writers out there who couldn’t have pulled it off with such aplomb.
This psychological thriller is a modern day story of secrets and lies that will resonate with many readers. I found it hard to put down – and I have the feeling you will too.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars