“She’s about to hurry on when something catches her eye. She hesitates. There’s something odd about the ebb and flow of the seawater in and around the pile of seaweed. It sucks and pulls at a shape in the sand. She steps forward to take a better look, fighting to keep her hood in place, her hair tearing at her eyes and face. Leaning down, she pulls the brown slime of the seaweed away and recoils in horror. Underneath is the white curve of a human leg.”
Author: Susanna Beard Published: 2018 Pages: 251
The blurb of this novel immediately intrigued me; a successful 45-year-old woman, Anna, is in Lithuania when she discovers the body of a 16-year-old girl washed up on the beach. Unnerved and unable to get the image of the girl out of her head, Anna goes from composed and certain to paranoid that the girl’s body means more than just one death. After meeting Will, a reporter, in Lithuania, she learns of the extent of crime in the country; from organised crime to sex trafficking, Anna doesn’t want the media to brush off the girl’s death as something less than it is. Then, Will goes missing and suddenly Anna becomes more entangled in this dark and dangerous world, determined to find the truth.
I love a murder mystery or a gripping thriller, so I was excited for this book to leave me on the edge of my seat. I think the book began well – I was interested in Anna and the author was very good at making me interested in Will, and his shady activities, too. I also loved how quickly the body was discovered – as it’s a fact stated in the blurb, I hate it when books take forever to reveal something they’ve already told me is going to happen.
Will was definitely the reason I carried on reading. The whole way through the book I felt unnerved by him because I could never quite figure him out; his enigmatic behaviour made him interesting, and so made his and Anna’s relationship interesting too. While in Lithuania, Anna also met someone called Gavin, and although fairly insignificant at the beginning of the novel, I love how his reappearances increased my appetite to get to the truth.
I do think the plot jumped around a lot, but then again, I think it might have been trying to show how busy Anna’s life was and how much the discovery of the body turned her life upside down. I’ve seen and read other stories, both true and fictional, about sex trafficking in Europe and so it was interesting to see Beard’s depiction of it. I do think that she maybe somewhat sugarcoated it, but I suppose because it was from Anna’s perspective, she never saw the full horror of what was happening.
Overall, there was nothing wrong with this book; it was written well, it had interesting characters and I liked the direction the plot took. I think it was just missing an element of suspense, which for a thriller is pretty vital. That being said, I do like the way Beard wrote the book and would read another one of her novels, and I’m sure, for another reader, this is a 5 star novel.
Thank you to Legend Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.