Thursday, 13 July 2017

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

There are certain must-have’s in this kind of ‘chick noir’ thriller. First off you need an edgy heroine, preferably with a past full of secrets and the potential to be an unreliable narrator. (Think Girl on a Train.) She’s someone you want to believe, but just how far can you trust her? And she has to be likeable enough that you are happy to spend time in her company.

Then you need a shadowy malefactor. Maybe the story even flips into his creepy and very unpleasant world from time to time. This will add that touch of dramatic irony – where you know something bad is just around the corner before the heroine does – to help ratchet up the tension. There should be the potential for one or two male characters the heroine trusts to be this malefactor, making the reader nervous whenever they appear in the same scene.

Add some impending doom – time running out for someone is always a winner – and sharp writing, and you have chick noir of the highest order. Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan ticks all of the above boxes.

Our heroine is Margot Lewis, a school teacher who freelances as an agony aunt on a Cambridge newspaper. She’s in the throes of a messy divorce when her life is complicated by the arrival of letters from Bethan Avery, a schoolgirl who disappeared nearly twenty years ago. Margot is already worried about missing student Katie Browne, who everyone believes has run away from home. Margot is certain she has been abducted, and almost certain she’s been taken by the same man who took Bethan.

The police aren’t falling over themselves to find Katie as she is old enough to leave home, but out of the blue, criminologist Martin Forrester contacts Margot, keen to see the letters. The two form a team intent on finding Katie and her abductor before it’s too late.

The story rattles along – the mounting pressure brings Margot to breaking point, with glimpses of her dark past. She’ll need a lot of grit and determination to outfox the perpetrator who has plans of his own. Dear Amy is a great escapist read, full of twists and edgy writing. If you enjoy this genre you won’t be able to put it down.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Dear Amy

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