Nicci French | April 2020 |431 pp
This is my first book by this author, who is actually a pseudonym for husband and wife team Sean French and Nicci Gerard. The team has been publishing books together since the very late 90’s and several of theirs are on my TBR. House of Correction is their latest and was a huge success with me so i’ll likely be pushing those up the list!
Tabitha has recently returned to her small sea side town to live in her old family home. Things have not been going well for her and she thought it best to return home, maybe to find herself. Tabitha is a quirky character that has struggled with her mental health and issues with anxiety. She is our narrator as we learn about her childhood, her middle school teacher that molested her, who is also a neighbor and how the towns people treated her after that incident went public when she was just 15. This all becomes relevant because that particular teacher winds up stabbed to death, and his body found on her porch, and she is accused of the murder and tossed in jail pending trail. Tabitha, thinking she will not get fair counsel in her town, insists on defending herself.
Pros: Very interesting crime drama, telling the story only from the perspective of the accused. The story moves at a good pace, not too fast where you think you can figure it out if only it would slow down. Instead suspects are paraded in front of you, and Tabitha, as she beckons them all to her jail to be interviewed by her about where they were before, after and during the crime.
Cons: There are a bunch of characters. Basically, every one in the town could be a suspect and most folks are tied to one another. Its a stretch to remember everyone. Im not sure Tabitha’s story is believable. It makes sense she was accused but to believe the wife and son of the murdered man would subject themselves to her questioning, is not. Those conversations read very awkward.
There’s an interesting side plot about the goings on between inmates and sergeants in the jail. It read a bit ‘PG’ for me but, this story is set in the UK and I’m in America. Our cops our murderers. 🤷🏾♀️ Probably a culture thing. 🙄🌴
I enjoy quirky charaters, a’la Eleanor Oliphant, but Tabitha has won the day as being the most self destructive. She was determined to be her own counsel in a capital murder case when a perfectly good lawyer was available and when telling the truth would have made more sense and been easier – she refused and even more frustrating, feigned ignorance.
The book isn’t one of those super twisty turny suspense thrillers that has your stomach in knots by the end because they’ve thrown everything but the kitchen sink at you. More than the murder, the suspense here is around Tabitha herself and attempting to find out why she’s made some of the decisions that has led to here. Very cool read from a solid writing team. Goodbook 5/2021
Good reads about other quirky characters: