Published: 24th January 2019
Started reading: February 19
Finished reading: February 24
Trigger warnings: Suicide, references to sexual abuse and self-harm
Ten years ago, Jen’s cousin Meg killed herself after failing to escape an abusive relationship.
Now, Meg’s ex is back and Jen’s domestic abuse helpline has started getting frightening calls from a girl who knows things about Meg – details that only the dead girl or the man who hurt her could have known…
As Jen starts to uncover the past, someone is determined to stop her. Can she save this young woman from Meg’s fate? Or is history about to repeat itself?
This is the kind of thriller that I just love to read. It is a powerful, unpredictable, and occasionally emotional story with a compelling plot that impressively explores a number of challenging issues. It kept me engaged throughout with its mix of complex characters and ever-present suspense.
I will admit that I thought I had this book all worked out a long way before the end, only to be proved wrong. Some of my theories hit the right notes, but when the final dramatic twist was revealed I was totally caught out! The author left some very subtle hints along the way, as well as some clever red herrings.
The story is told from the first person present tense from the points of view of the two main protagonists, Ruth and Jen. I thought both them are extremely well drawn and contain a great amount of depth, and the same can be said about all of the secondary characters, which is something I really appreciated about the book.
It is through these characters that all of the challenging issues are examined, and they become increasingly impactful as the story develops and nears its end. The way that the author captured the unimaginable grief and self-blame of both Ruth and Jen is especially brilliant, as 10 years on they both still reflect on how they could have helped the enigmatic Megan before she died.
There are regular flashbacks from both main characters to when Megan was alive, and these moments really underline just how complex she was. The idea of the helpline and the vulnerability of its callers, is a powerful symbol of the issues contained within the book, and enabled me to gain an even greater emotional connection.
I liked the writing style. It was well-structured with a fairly steady pace that felt ideal for a primarily character-driven story, allowing tension to gradually build. I also liked how the author seemed to be able to read my mind and immediately answer questions that I was forming at certain points of the book!
It was good reading about the setting, too. This book is set in Liverpool; a city that I know quite well having been there several times, so it was fun to read about places that I have been to and be able to visualise them.
There are not many things I can criticise about the book. Sometimes a couple of the plot strands became a bit repetitive, while some of the flashbacks to Megan were a slight distraction to the present-day storyline, but these are both relatively minor.
Overall, this is a fantastic thriller that I would certainly recommend to anyone who likes the genre. It is strong and captivating and well written, with plot twists that you may or may not see coming! This is the first book I have read by Amanda Brooke, and it will not be the last!
Amanda Brooke did not seriously get into creative writing until just before the age of 40, and her first novel was published in 2012. She has gone on to become a prolific author, and Don’t Turn Around is her ninth book.
Amanda lives in her hometown of Liverpool with her daughter, Jessica.
I was absorbed by the powerful nature of the plot and the characterisation of this book, and really liked it. One of the best books I have read so far in 2019.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5