Friday, 5 January 2018

Book Review: THIS IS HOW IT ENDS by Eva Dolan

Author: Eva Dolan
Bloomsbury Publishing
January 2018
Expected publication: 25 January 2018
My Rating: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ1/2

Book Description (Goodreads):

Ella Riordan is a community activist who became famous when she was beaten by police during a social protest. Now Ella is a squatter in a building where the owners are evicting tenants so they can convert it into luxury condos, and she’s determined to stay and defend the few holdout tenants, despite death threats.

One night after a rooftop party with her fellow holdouts, Ella finds a horrible scene awaiting her in her apartment. In a panic, she calls her neighbor Molly, who convinces her that the police won’t believe she’s innocent. Together the two women concoct a gruesome plan to hide the body down the building’s elevator shaft.

But the secret won’t stay buried for long. As truth hangs in the balance, a neighbor tells Molly he had heard Ella arguing with a man in the hallway and mistrust grows between Ella and Molly, as repercussions of that night threaten to change both women’s lives forever. 

My musings:

Eva Dolan is a great writer who usually tackles interesting subjects in her police procedurals, so I was very interested to read her latest stand-alone novel This is How it Ends. And Dolan has proven once again that it is possible to include current affairs topics into an engaging thriller without bogging the story down. Both of her two main protagonists, activists Ella and Molly, are intriguing and make a nice difference from your average mystery cast. These are women who are defying societal rules, who swim against the stream, who are in trouble with police and live according to their own moral code. Whilst I didn’t love either of them, I found myself drawn irrevocably into their world, trying to work out what makes them tick. It is a very skilled writer indeed who can create such vivid imagery in readers’ minds whilst making them question the very topics that move the story along – and there is plenty of fodder there that could have come out of your evening news broadcast.

The story is being told in two POVs, with Molly narrating the present, and Ella featuring in the backstory that leads up to the trouble the women find themselves in. The relationship between the two women is as intriguing and multi-layered as the events described, adding a depth to the story lacking in many other mysteries. Whilst Molly is a seasoned activist who lives life according to the principles she fights for and is not easily cowed, Ella is the archetypal young and passionate keyboard warrior who is still finding her feet in her defiance of authority. Ella’s background of growing up with a father high up in the police force makes her character all the more complex. With Molly acting as both a mother figure as well as a role model for young Ella, it is easy to see what binds the two women together – until the events that threaten that bond.

I admit that I struggled a bit with the format though, especially Ella’s chapters, which are not always told in chronological order, and made me flick back and forth through the pages to see if I had missed anything. Of course Dolan is too clever a writer not to have a plan, and it all came together beautifully in the end, when the unusual narration style suddenly made perfect sense. This was one of those rare books that totally blindsided me with a twist I did not see coming at all. A very clever, dark and multi-layered mystery that will appeal to lovers of the genre that are looking for something a bit deeper than your run-of-the-mill story. I very much look forward to reading more from this author in future. 

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

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