Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Book Review: IN TOO DEEP by Bea Davenport

In Too Deep

Title: In too Deep
Author: Bea Davenport
Publisher: Legend Press
June 23 - 24, 2013

Synopsis (Goodreads):

'... The window's so small I can't see what happens next. But what I do know is that Kim is dead. And I know this, too that I helped to kill her. Kim, my lovely, only, best friend.'
Five years ago Maura fled life in Dowerby and took on a new identity, desperately trying to piece her life back together and escape the dark clouds that plagued her past. But then a reporter tracks her down, and persuades her to tell her story, putting her own life in danger once again.

Layer upon layer of violence and deceit make up the full picture for Maura to see and the reporter to reveal. Hidden secrets are uncovered that have been left to settle, for far too long. But in life some things can't be left unsaid, and eventually the truth will out. Whatever the consequences.

My thoughts:

Drawing on her experience as a real life crime reporter, Bea Davenport has written a taut and suspenseful psychological thriller which marks her as a writer to watch and an exciting new voice in crime fiction.

For five years Maura Wood has been living a reclusive life under an alias, working menial jobs which allow her to stay under the radar, keeping to herself and careful not to let her true identity slip. It comes as a huge shock to her when out of the blue she is contacted by a young reporter who has not only discovered her former name, but also wants to investigate the events leading up to the death of Maura’s best friend Kim in the small town of Dowersby. Reluctantly and against her better judgment, Maura relents and tells her story – but by re-opening this can of worms, will the dark secrets of her past be able to destroy the fragile safety of her new life? Maura knows only too well that some people will stop at nothing to protect their own …

What instantly appealed to me about Davenport’s debut novel In too Deep was the small UK village setting which provided a taut claustrophobic atmosphere perfect for a psychological thriller. Davenport obviously is no stranger to village life and small town dynamics as she accurately captures the dark elements of a tight knit community who will stop at nothing to protect their own and what is valuable to them. It was easy to imagine how a young woman, an outsider, could be trapped in an abusive relationship in this small rural town mired in old tradition, with nobody to turn to for help.

Maura’s matter-of-fact voice as she is telling her story was appealing and captured me from the word go, and I found I really cared to find out more about this interesting character. And whilst Davenport states she drew on her experiences as a reporter when she penned her novel, her writing is in no way factual or dry – instead, dialogue and Maura’s own reflections drive the story and soon draw the reader into a dark and claustrophobic web of simmering menace.

As Maura’s story unfolds, the reader slowly finds out details about Maura’s present life as well as the events in the past which compelled her to change her identity and go into hiding. Davenport’s portrayal of Maura and Nick’s dysfunctional marriage is insightful and observant - Maura never makes a secret of how abusive her relationship has become, and yet finds it impossible to escape it. One can easily imagine why she is irresistibly drawn to the vibrant and independent Kim, despite her obvious shortcomings – and why this would upset a community bent on old traditional marital roles and morals.

The only thing which let the novel down for me was its somewhat predictable ending – I had hoped for a twist, a surprise, that certain speechless moment of “what????” which for me marks a good suspense novel. After creating an atmosphere of constant tension, it all resolved a bit too seamlessly for my linking and left me mildly dissatisfied.

In summary, In too Deep was an enjoyable read which quickly managed to draw me in and kept me up reading well into the night. Definitely a writer to watch and one I hope to hear a lot more from in future.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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