Book Review: Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

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Angus & Robertson:

Published in Australia on the 7th January, 2020 by Bantam Press, an imprint of Penguin.

Australian RRP: $32.99

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller Fiction.

Page Count: 304

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from Penguin Books Australia:

You thought your darkest secret was safe.

You were wrong.

The addictive new stand alone psychological thriller from the bestselling author of The Rumour

Every town has its secrets. Lesley Kara knows them all . . .

From the author of 2019’s biggest crime thriller debut, The Rumour, comes an addictive new novel . . .

It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around.

Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged.

But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.

Some mistakes, you have to pay for . . .

My Review:

A huge thank you to Penguin Random House Australia for sending me a copy of Lesley Kara’s second novel, Who Did You Tell? in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

By no means is Who Did You Tell? an easy book to digest, content wise. It deals with addiction of the highest degree, personal demons constantly tormenting our main character, often leading her into states of paranoia and fear.

Yet, when I was reading Who Did You Tell? I could hardly put it down! It struck me as interesting that initially, Astrid, to me, didn’t seem to be the most likeable character, but as the story goes on you just can’t help but feel for her, I found myself really feeling for her during her moments of despair, knowing she can’t necessarily wrong the writes she went through, and she knows there’s no bringing Simon back – but truly, she’s really trying to overcome her addiction!

The addiction that Astrid is desperately trying to overcome is alcohol, she attends AA meetings, lives with her elderly Quaker Mother (frankly, where else can Astrid go?)

I found the Mother/Daughter dynamic in this book really interesting to read about- I feel like Astrid perhaps should have been more honest and upfront with her Mother about what happened to Simon – I know it would have been utterly painful but I feel like Astrid’s Mum might have maybe understood her daughter’s paranoid fear about having a potential stranger in the house? I mean, this does indeed happen and after Astrid has recieved several threatening letters turn up on her doorstep…someone claiming to know Astrid’s deepest, darkest secret, someone who wants vengeance….

Something that I should’ve remembered from Lesley Kara’s debut novel The Rumour, is that everything is most definitely not as it seems! At intermittent points throughout the chapters, we have a narration from someone who is clearly after Astrid, but just when I thought it was going one way, something else would happen and it totally threw me!

I must absolutely also mention how spectacularly fascinating and engaging Lesley Kara’s writing is! Not only in terms of edgy, on your seat pacing, but the sheer emotion that she puts into Astrid’s character! Whilst I mentioned earlier that she’s not initially likeable, this does indeed swiftly turn as I was pulled into her despair! Her addiction to alcohol definitely controlled her, I mean, throughout the story she faces alot of temptation, and I could just feel the desperation- being tempted to drink but equally determined not to…which way will she go? I was truly so so worried, we all want to conquer our demons of addiction and be free, but sometimes it’s definitely easier said than done! So to say that Who Did You Tell? deals with addiction as a main theme would be utterly correct, Lesley Kara even has rather brilliantly and fittingly penned her dedication ‘to anyone whose life has been affected by addiction.’

I I couldn’t help but get caught up in Astrid’s world! Whilst I don’t condone her constant secrecy and wish she wasn’t always initially alone in fighting her demons, I do feel that maybe she should have been more initially upfront with her new Male friend, Josh. I feel like she was so scared and indeed she was, of Josh finding out about her dark past, but I truly believe had she confided in him before things unfolded as they did…well, a rather awkward and embarrassing situation maybe might not have been recieved the way it was!

Helen’s character definitely surprised me in a heart wrenching and horrifying way – I never would’ve envisioned her connection to the story! She truly just seemed to be the perfect ally for Astrid, meeting at the AA groups and confiding in one another about their demons, Astrid not knowing really about Helen at all, though! It just goes to show, once again, how something may be so clear cut simple but definitely not at all as it seems at the same time! Once again though, as the story goes along and penultimate twists are revealed and I was thrust into Helen’s mindset I just couldn’t help but feel a sense of sheer heartache and despair for her, as well as Astrid!

Also, I must add that I was actually really excited to have picked up on the fact that Who Did You Tell? is set in the pocket sized same town as The Rumour! When Astrid was recalling a chat with her Mother about how news and gossip travels like wildfire in this sleepy town, and Astrid’s Mum mentions how a shop keeper was once accused of murdering a child (as it happened in The Rumour) – I just felt like it was such a clever twist!!

Who Did You Tell? is an absolute must read for anyone who loves a good, twisty page turner that will truly keep you guessing right up to the end and in equal measure keep you haunted! The sheer grief and humanity etched in these characters will stay with me for some time to come!

About the Author:

Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Academy β€˜Writing a Novel’ course. She lives on the North Essex coast. Her first novel is The Rumour. Who Did You Tell? is her second novel.

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