It’s February 2020 and Amelia and husband screenwriter Adam Wright journey through inclement weather to a weekend stay at a converted chapel at Blackwater Loch in the Scottish Highlands. The weekend away is an attempt to save their marriage though the atmosphere outside the Morris Minor matches the ominous one inside, with the exception of their chilled black lab, Bob who snoozes in blissful ignorance! The story is told in alternating perspectives, interspersed with undelivered letters to Adam during the marriage. The less you know about the storyline the better the enjoyment, so I’ll keep it general!!!
If Alice Feeney’s a football team then she’s Man City at the top of her game, if she’s champagne she’s a Krug, a Dom or Crystal with her storytelling fizzing perfectly and her plots are as delicious as a Michelin meal and she’s definitely the winner of a Rock Paper Scissor competition! Setting this principally in the Scottish Highlands is perfect as you can match the rapidly changing weather conditions to mood and the unfolding drama and she does this expertly. Right from the start you get bad vibes, things off kilter ( or should that be kilt!), a bit spooky, it feels suffocating, claustrophobic and weird. The characters are interesting though not necessarily likeable and Adam suffering prosopagnosia (face blindness) adds a terrific element to the storytelling allowing all kinds of possibilities. You realise quickly that we have a set of liars, they’re chock full of secrets some being huge and the further we progress we see relationships are rotting on the vine. To use some of the fantastic words of the year included in the letters, there’s a lot of ‘shenanigans’ and ‘hornswoggling’ going on, they’re not very ‘chuffed’ with each other and eventually, we get ‘schadenfreude’. There are some little moments of magic which is closely followed by a touch of horror or malice, interspersed with recurring images from nightmares that make Adam wake. As you would expect from the mistress of twists, there are several and some shocking revelations which are eye-popping and jaw-dropping. The use of Rock Paper Scissors appears throughout and in several clever ways but especially at the end! Gulp!
Overall, I expected to love this one and I do. It’s a bit more understated than her other books but that’s what makes it so clever as it leads to some events really standing out and socking you between the eyes. I’m pleased to report that lovely Bob comes to no harm. Highly recommended.
With thanks to NetGalley and especially to HQ for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.