“Till death do us part…
After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…”
I am feeling a single word review coming on today for this book and that word would be – labyrinthine. (I’m thinking this might be my new hook – one word book reviews. A departure, I know, as I tend to be fairly verbose. Any blog tour hosts going for this idea?)
On the basis the above idea is not going to prove popular, I guess I should expand a little on the above but that word definitely sums this book up perfectly. It is the most twisty-turny (see, labyrinthine is much better – I’m nailing this writing lark) of all the twisty-turny books I have read this year to the point I had no clue which way was up or down and my brain was meeting itself coming back the other way. It is the novel equivalent of playing a game of Snake (does that mean anything to anyone else or am I really showing my age now?)
I had so many different theories about where this book was going at multiple points during the story but then something else would happen that would completely throw me off track and I would change my mind, only to come back to my previous theory two chapters later. I did actually consider the outcome that proved to be the eventual resolution of the book a couple of times but I absolutely was not sure what was going to be the ending before it was upon me because there were several that were equally as likely throughout. It is really cleverly done.
The book is written from three different perspectives throughout – Lily, Sebastian and a mystery voice. To begin with, I kept getting a little confused at the beginning of the chapter about whose voice was speaking. I did eventually sort it out, as Lily was written in the first person and Sebastian in the third, but until I picked up on that rhythm I had to keep stopping to check which prevented the story flowing in the early chapters, but this was a minor niggle.
It was really fascinating to try and put yourself in Lily’s shoes as she tries to work out why such unpleasant things are happening and who is behind them and see the disintegration of trust she has in the people she is closest to. I began to wonder how quickly I could be made to doubt people I thought I knew and loved and hoped not that quickly but the premise is that one simply does not know until one is in that position.
The setting of the book and the people are fairly ordinary – teachers and doctors in suburbia – and the upsetting events when looked at dispassionately are not that dramatic, until they are happening to you, and that is the genius of it. The author manages to weave tension and menace and deceit and doubt into very ordinary scenarios, so you can put yourself in the shoes of this woman who is no one special but is thrust into an extraordinary situation that turns her life upside down in a very short period of time.
There were points in this book where I did have to stretch to suspend my disbelief to allow myself to be carried along by the story and I found the writing at the beginning a tad bald in places but it was most definitely gripping and had me turning the pages until late in to the night to get to the end and see which of my theories was the correct one, which is all you can really ask of a book of this kind and anyone who liked a psychological thriller will be hooked because it is a tricky one!
Do No Harm is out now and you can buy a copy here.
If you would like to follow the rest of the blog tour for this book, you can find the details here:
About the Author
Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017.
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