When Mia washes up ashore, she cannot remember anything from her life: boyfriend Piers, her million dollar business, row coach Jack and a dark secret…
“The scent of salt and seaweed. My throat, dry. Lips parched. Cold. Shivering. I can’t think straight.” Even before these intriguing first lines of chapter one in this gripping crime novel appear, we have read the sentences on the page before. We know that this woman must have almost drowned in the sea and we have had an insight into her struggle to survive and stay away from the swallowing dark water. When we catch up with her, we find her washed ashore, barely breathing, unconscious of what has happened and how she ended up on the shore.
As the young woman is rescued, it is clear that her memory is failing her as she has no recollection of what happened. Her amnesia prevents her from remembering her name and therefore the hospital has no other choice but to inform the police. Her fingerprints are taken and questions asked but she can provide no answers. Her body recovers quickly but what about her mind? When her boyfriend Piers Bevan-Price tells the police that she is none other than Mia James, she is released from hospital. Piers is handsome and self-confident and has all the appearances of a man obviously enjoying life. Piers wants to pamper Mia and take her home to her elegant townhouse on the river. Mia feels overwhelmed by the life she apparently was leading. Somehow we, the readers, have a gnawing feeling that it is too good to be true: the neighbours Matthew and Suki are acting weirdly and Piers is becoming obtrusive, taking over every aspect of her life.
Mia is not having it anymore. Memory loss or not, this is the time to take control over her life again, especially since she has found out that she is a millionaire and owns a company. She is, in fact, Piers’ boss. Bit by bit Mia discovers more of her life before drowning but with everything she uncovers, even more questions remain unanswered. Why will no one tell her the truth whether her almost-drowning was an accident or premeditated murder? Even more disturbing are the recurring nightmares Mia experiences featuring a woman angrily staring her in the eye. It takes a shocking confrontation with Piers to set Mia into action: she throws Piers out of her house and, reminding his bitter words regarding her passion for rowing, decides to check out the rowing club. There she meets club coach Jack Harrington, who wrongly assumes Mia will recognise him. Rowing with Jack makes Mia realise she wants to become a rowing coach.
The added bonus is spending a lot of time with the very attractive Jack! For the first time since Mia washed up ashore, she feels things are lightening up and she is ready to bravely enter her until then, closed study to discover what the nature of her business was. To her surprise, she finds all her emails deleted and no business correspondence whatsoever to be found on her laptop. Why would anyone erase her life before her retrograde amnesia? Then her drowning accident must have been an attempt to murder her. Maybe the woman from the nightmare poses a real-life threat and Mia could still be in danger. As we see Mia’s confusion and her blossoming love for Jack, we feel she has earned a fresh start in life: a new love, a new career. Mia is finally starting to recover and all will be well again, whether or not she will ever regain her memory. However, cunning and intriguing plot twists suddenly develop, causing a series of unexpected events.
This is Shalini Boland’s debut as a crime novelist and what a promising author she is, plotting her tale towards an unpredictable ending. That is something I really like in a crime novel, to be surprised and set on the wrong foot, up to a point where you feel the need to check on earlier pages in the book if what you had assumed was right. The plot is gripping and once you’ve started reading, you will have to keep on reading, you need to know how the story will end. That makes this exciting psychological novel a gripping crime debut, with tension building up from the start. The short opening sentences of the book ensure you feel a certain urge to get Mia out of the water and to make sure she is all right. You want to get to the bottom of what is happening to her. Shalini Boland’s character descriptions are so good that you feel an instant like or a despise for certain people. But even there, nothing is as it seems, the appearances of appearances can be deceiving. My only comment is that this fascinating book could easily have had some extra chapters. The story before us unfolds so quickly and at such a speed, that I would have been happy to read more.
This book is also available as an Audiobook (my review).
About the Author
Books and music are Shalini Boland‘s passion and she has always been a writer in some shape or form. Before children, she was signed to Universal Music as a singer/songwriter. Now Shalini Boland combines motherhood with writing fiction. She writes the kinds of books she loves to read herself – suspenseful thrillers and gripping adventures. Shalini Boland is a well-known writer of Young Adult fiction – “gripping adventures with a spattering of supernatural and a sprinkling of romance” as she calls it. Read more psychological novels by Shalini Boland? Check out my review of ‘The Best Friend‘ (20 Oct. 2016).
|Publisher||Creative Adrenalin (9 Jun. 2016)|