I Made A Mistake is a slow-burn drama, that is carefully layered and very much in the style of Jane Corry. Having read most of her books, and been a fan for a long time, it is always a joy to read the latest novel from this very talented author. Using two first-person story threads and a court-room scene that teases with a fait accompli, Jane builds a story full of suspense and mystery. The reveal is that we know who is murdered and we have someone in court being questioned, you may think the mystery has been solved – but think again. What you do know is that over the next few hundred pages you will be taken on a ride that gives brilliantly drawn characters every motive why they should be the murderer.
Poppy Page was an aspiring actress, but when it didn’t work out she established an agency providing extras for film and TV roles. She is married to Stuart with daughters, Melissa and Daisy, and also shares her home with her mother-in-law Betty. Betty and Poppy are extremely close, more like mother and daughter and they both provide alternating accounts of their story. Poppy, as she encounters, at a Christmas party, an old partner, Matthew, who she loved many years before her husband. An encounter that leads to Poppy’s first of many mistakes. Jane Corry turns the tables really brilliantly from building excitement to arousal to a rapid descent into fear and dread. Fearful that her mistakes will be exposed and the continuing pursuit from Matthew will destroy her family.
Betty tells her story as a letter to Poppy and it accounts for her adult life, from meeting her husband, Jock, a selfish, controlling and an imperious man who has since passed away. A marriage that Betty considers a mistake, but behaved as the social pressures dictated at the time and stayed with him. She opens up to Poppy, revealing secrets and regrets from a very naïve and oppressed woman. Betty talks about tragic events and the pull to leave her husband but with her son, Stuart and a damning secret she endures her distressing life.
I find it very intriguing the mastery of the plot where you give up a potential surprise at the beginning of the novel but still manage to hold the suspense until the end with a multitude of possibilities. It’s a very clever way of watching the interaction of the victim with the other characters to see if we can spot clues. Jane develops characters with many layers and gradually she changes them over time. This is very evident in Betty’s story as she manages to turn the tables and challenge her husband’s authority.
The story builds to an enthralling conclusion with an ever-increasing pace. I would highly recommend I Made a Mistake as a great psychological crime drama that is fascinating and cleverly plotted. I would also like to thank Penguin Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC copy in return for an honest review.