Sunday, 3 June 2018

Audiobook Review: HE SAID / SHE SAID by Erin Kelly

Author: Erin Kelly
Narrators: Jonathan Broadbent, Helen Johns
Read: May 2018
Expected publication: available now
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2

Book Description:

In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura are living under assumed names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.

My musings:

I’m not sure exactly what made me pick out He Said / She Said from my Alpine TBR list, only that I am really glad that I finally picked it up, and that I went into this completely blind. What a great mystery! As soon as Laura and Kit made their appearance, I knew that I was going to like this book. Do you find that sometimes you just instantly bond with a character / characters? I love it when protagonists stand out from the fray through some unusual quirk or characteristic that makes them interesting and three-dimensional. In this case, Laura and Kit are both eclipse chasers, people who will sacrifice their time and savings to travel the world to view total solar eclipses. Apparently, only those who are located in the path of the moon’s full shadow can see a total solar eclipse, which makes people traverse continents to be in the right spot at the right time. Who knew? Who also knew the four different phases of an eclipse, which draw parallels to the very distinctive parts of this clever story of danger and suspense? 

Kit and Laura’s story starts with the total solar eclipse of August 11, 1999, on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, when they are both only twenty-one years old and freshly in love. Many mysteries rely on the characters’ bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and sadly, for Kit and Laura this auspicious day will turn out to be their undoing. Not only is the eclipse “clouded out”, with weather conditions impairing visibility, but a chance encounter shortly after the eclipse will change their lives forever and see them go into hiding afraid of ... well, you will need to read it to find out!

I love novels that describe situations that could happen to anyone and that have life-changing implications. What would I do in that position? How would I react? The question was ever present in my mind as Laura and Kit try to live with the fallout of the incident at Lizard Point, which is being slowly unmasked through Laura’s and Kit’s retellings of the past through both POVs. I will not go into the plot at all, because anything may spoil the surprise for someone, and the novel hinges strongly on plot twists and surprises – so if you are a fan of that particular genre (like I am) you are in luck! In fact, the twists are so clever and so sneaky that the book easily makes it onto my “brilliant twist” list, and I am not usually easily impressed.

He Said / She Said is a slow burning, character driven mystery with a constant undercurrent of menace and danger that had me totally enthralled and gave me goosebumps. I am so glad that I listened to this novel on audio, which gave me the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the atmosphere of its tense narrative. A rich cast of supporting characters who were as compelling as Kit and Laura themselves, and the interesting background of the solar eclipse chasing scene added additional depth and interest for me, and I looked forward to every minute I could spend in my car listening. For me, these sort of atmospheric, tense and claustrophobic mysteries are the best kind, and I gasped out loud a few times as the couple stumble along their path towards their undoing. For lovers of courtroom drama, there was also an interesting and confronting courtroom scene, but again I cannot elaborate for fear of giving something away – let me tell you though that it was an eye opener!


So, before I open my big mouth and gush out a secret, I will try and sum this up in a few words: this tense, claustrophobic and clever mystery is a must-read for lovers of slow-burning, character driven, twisty psychological thrillers. It messed with my mind, which is the best compliment I can pay to any book in the genre. The only reason this was not a 5-star read for me was the ending, which was a bit too drawn out for me, as the author tried to tie up all loose ends but in my opinion ended up over-explaining things when a full-stop could have kept me reeling in shock and surprise. A minor quibble. I loved it. Thank you, and I will definitely pick up other titles by the author!

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