A new novel from Paula Daly is always a cause for celebration. Fast-paced, with gripping plots driven by fully-rounded characters, they tend to focus on ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances.
Her latest opens with a letter from a literary agent. So far, so not-so-ordinary. Our protagonist, Jane, is an aspiring author, living in the shadow of her far more successful husband Leon, who has a string of bestsellers to his name. Despite this underlying tension, their marriage seems happy enough – aside from the familiar tensions over the in-laws and a recent dry spell in the bedroom.
But then Leon is brutally attacked in the driveway to their home and Jane’s world comes crashing down. With Leon in a coma and her prints on the assault weapon, Jane is forced to play amateur detective while the police seem convinced that she’s the one responsible. The more she digs, the more she discovers that there are things her husband hasn’t told her – secrets that not only hold the key to what happened to him, but also put Jane and her children in danger
Daly is an expert at wrong-footing the reader, leading you up unexpected paths and then taking a series of sharp turns, until you lose sight of your surroundings. It’s the literary equivalent of a game of blind man’s bluff – even when you open your eyes, your head still spins.
When Jane’s eyes are finally opened, you’ll be as surprised as she is. This is a proper page turner – cleverly plotted and deeply heartfelt, with a satisfying twist. In other words, just what we’ve come to expect from Paula Daly.