Written by Mark Edwards — There are some real benefits to working from home. You can take as many coffee breaks as you like and could even stop to watch daytime TV if you fancy a bit of brainless nonsense. Best of all, you don’t have to deal with colleagues, which can be a real bonus if your workmates are as much of a problem as the ones in this book.
She’s had four years out of the London rat race to raise her daughter, now Sophie Greenwood has landed her dream job after being headhunted for a top role in marketing at successful children’s publisher, Jackdaw Books. After so long away the job is sure to be a challenge but Sophie soon gets back into full-on work mode and appears to be handling it really well. Too well, perhaps, for one of her team members. But how far would you go to make the boss look foolish?
Things begin to go seriously awry when Sophie takes the reins of a high-powered publicity campaign for Jackdaw’s biggest release of the year. She comes up with some stunning marketing ideas and all looks set fair for a smooth publication date… until things begin to fall apart around her ears.
The team that at first appeared so reliable and solid is suddenly fragile and fragmented, emails go astray and Sophie’s notebook containing all her campaign notes vanishes. Someone is out to get her – but who? And why? Can she trust her ambitious young assistant? And what really happened to her predecessor, who seems to have mysteriously vanished off the face of the earth?
Gradually, we learn the answers to these questions as the story bounces between timelines offering some vital clues into Sophie’s past and shedding light on the significance of her friendship with the mysterious Jasmine back at university in Sussex in 1999.
I found the ping-pinging plot a little distracting at times but, in Sophie, Mark Edwards has created a solidly believable character trapped in a world that gradually becomes more and more unreliable. Some of the supporting cast tend towards the caricature, with creepy Franklin Bird, founder of Jackdaw books, at the head of the queue. He reminded me of Mr Burns in The Simpsons!
This is an enthralling, disturbing read which verges on the unsettling and takes great delight in wrong-footing us at every end and turn. Edwards is a past master at taking a simple, day-to-day situation and skewing it to create tension and thrills. The Devil’s Work sees him using that skill to full effect, treating us to myriad slap-the-forehead moments as things suddenly spring into startling focus.
Although he is now a full-time writer, Mark Edwards once worked in marketing and his familiarity with those dark arts is evident. They ring disturbingly true, as do his descriptions of the publishing industry – not surprising from a man who has seen the business from a wide range of angles.
The Devil’s Work is a book destined to grab your interest and not let go that iron grip until the final page is turned. Definitely not one to dip into – block off a nice chunk of reading time, put the phone on silent and be prepared for the long haul!
Thomas & Mercer
CFL Rating: 4 Stars