Heatwave is the latest book from the pen of the fabulous Katerina Diamond and it is her first standalone novel sitting alongside her DS Imogen Grey series. A dark psychological thriller which is cleverly crafted and leads to a very disturbing finale.
Unlike Katerina Diamond’s other novels where the action takes place on the trail of a gruesome serial killer, this book is a slow build sinister threat that searches back into the past. The abduction of a young woman, Mandy Green from the Devon coastal town of Sidmouth, stirs something deep in Felicity Musgrave and without delay, she leaves her husband Chris and two children in their home in the Lake District to travel to Devon. The family are left bewildered with Felicity only explaining that she knows something similar happened when she was sixteen when she and her best friend Jasmine lived in Sidmouth. There is a great pang of guilt surrounding Felicity and being in Sidmouth after all these years she wonders if she is doing the right thing.
“This was all a big mistake and I feel like I am on the brink of destroying myself by being here. I am putting everything and everyone I love in danger because I couldn’t stay away. I was gone, I was free. But the pull was too much. Curiosity killed the cat. I just hope it doesn’t kill me.”
The story is told over two time periods, and the mechanism of telling the past in the third person from the perspective of Jasmine and the present in the first person from Felicity is a brilliant choice. You’ll realise how clever this choice is when you get to the end and the two storylines converge. In Jasmine’s story, a lodger Tim takes up residence in a garden guest house and he reflects mysterious deep anger that makes Jasmine uneasy, yet her mother and father, Frank and Lisa, seem fond of him. Jasmine is a very pretty girl and has encountered advances from a teacher, who was sacked and shamed as a result and now with Tim, there is a disquieting attraction. In revisiting Sidmouth, Felicity meets some old acquaintances although she is ultimately drawn to her old home and secrets that may be revealed.
As a style of gradually building psychological tension, it was always going to be a slow build but this distracted me at times. The pace of the story seemed very pedestrian and quite unlike Katerina Diamond, particularly building the narrative around Felicity. I spotted early on a particular twist and there are little clues to solving this particular mystery as you go along, however, it doesn’t spoil the main plot and the reasons behind the course of events. The pace picks up in the final 20% and the ending is shocking and caught me by surprise.
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy slow-burn psychological thrillers. I would like to thank Avon Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.