Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Book Review: THE CONFESSION by Jo Spain

Author: Jo Spain
Hachette Australia
December 2017
Expected publication: 11 January 2018
My Rating: 🌟🌟1/2

Book Description:

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn't know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry's many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who - of Harry, Julie and JP - is really the guilty one? And is Carney's surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

My musings:

A man walks into the house of a wealthy businessman and brutally beats him to death in front of his wife. He then hands himself over to police and confesses to the crime, claiming it was a random act of violence. Seems straight forward enough. We now have a crime and a killer. So why are DC Alice Moody’s alarm bells ringing that there is more to the story than it first seems?

The Confession is a thriller written in reverse – we know from the start who the killer is, but the question is: why? Spain explores this mystery through the eyes of her three narrators: JP Delaney, the killer; Julie, the victim’s wife; and DC Alice Moody, who is trying to solve the case. Not everyone is a reliable narrator, so readers have their work cut out for them trying to decipher the clues that lead to the final answer.

Warning – if you want characters you can like, admire and bond with, this may not be the right book for you, as each and every one of the people featuring in The Confession are thoroughly unlikeable. Even DC Moody, who was the only one that seemed sane, was depicted in the most unflattering light and played quite a peripheral role. So whilst Spain tells her story well, and offers a solid background story to the murder, I floundered a little bit reading this book. I admit being a reader who needs to be able to bond with at least one character, and in this case the only person who sounded remotely likeable was already dead. What followed was a glimpse into the lives of the other highly dysfunctional characters, which left me feeling slightly depressed and miserable. Some passages seemed to add little to the story except more misery, and I admit I struggled to finish the story despite the author’s skill in evoking an atmospheric setting and an overall intriguing plot. Whilst I liked the theme of innocence corrupted by power, and its ultimate consequences, I concede that I am probably not the right audience for this book, needing a glimpse of hope or at least a character I can root for in my stories.

The Confession will appeal to readers who will not let a cast of unlikeable characters get in the way of a good story, without the need to bond with a protagonist in order to enjoy the read. Written in reverse, The Confession offers a thriller with a difference that stands out from a lot of “been there, done that” books in the genre. Spain tells a good story, so even though this might not have been exactly my cup of tea, I look forward to reading more from this author in future. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hachette Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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