Her debut thriller was a phenomenon, but here an embarrassment of narrators and the clunky withholding of information is death to suspense
More accidents happen in the home than anywhere else, a fact to lend some much-needed plausibility to the overworked genre of domestic suspense, or grip-lit as it’s sometimes known. About 60 debut novels cross my desk every year (I chair the New Blood panel at the Theakston Old Peculier crime writing festival), and for the last three or four years, the proportion of this subgenre has been rising.
The author has to hold back information, hinting at its existence, obliquely suggesting where there might be secrets
Not a problem in itself: if the books were original, well written or thought-provoking, nobody would be happier than I. But sadly that’s not generally been the case. There have been notable exceptions, of course: clever, suspenseful reads such as Renée Knight’s Disclaimer or Ben McPherson’s A Line of Blood. Then there are the mega-sellers such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train, which all gave us interesting twists on the idea of the unreliable narrator.
These books need to deliver at least one shocking moment when the reader realises that they have been looking at the picture the wrong way up. There must be a sudden twist in the direction of travel, taking us to an entirely unexpected destination. We readers journey hopefully, willing that moment to arrive.
Read the full article on The Guardian website…