Available 23rd April 2015 from Headline
They told her she killed her son. She served her time. But what if they lied?
I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?
Any book that starts with something a little different to the usual scene-setting intro usually does a good job of grabbing my interest. How I Lost You manages this by starting with a letter written by our protagonist, Susan Webster/Emma Cartwright, to the parole board – getting stuck right in with all the tragic and harrowing details of her crime for which she is seeking forgiveness.
Susan has now been released after 4 years imprisonment for the murder of her infant son, Dylan. She cannot remember anything of the actual event, only what she was told by professionals and heard during her trial. Susan was diagnosed with puerperal psychosis – the most extreme post-natal depression – and has blacked out the whole event. Now trying to rehabilitate in a new town under a new persona, Susan starts to receive mysterious letters and packages relating to her son. She cannot make sense of these ‘gifts’ – has someone local discovered her identity and wants to torture her? Is it a vengeful prank at the hands of her ex-husband? Is she crazy and sending these to herself? Or might Dylan really be alive? Armed with the unlikely help of her best friend and old cell mate Cassie, and Nick Whitely, the journalist who covered her trial; Susan sets out to find out the truth about what happened to her son and who is tormenting her, and she stumbles upon a dark secret that spans back 20 years…
I really enjoyed this book. It is full of mystery that had me hooked from the offset. There is nothing too obvious to begin with, so you will be left scratching your head for a fair old while. And further mystery is added when you are given some flashback chapters that go back some twenty years; and you know that of course these flashbacks must link to our present-day story somehow – but if you figure out how straight away…well then you’re a better person than I!! But, if you are anything like me, you won’t have to wait too long for some answers as you will be speeding through the pages with relish.
This was a real ‘Goodness how many bad guys are there?’ kind of read – where you’ll soon be urging Susan not to trust anyone! Throughout the book I had my suspicions about certain characters, but it’s a very elaborate plot and so you can’t put your finger on the exact roles of all the players here. And the way the author entwines the characters so that practically everyone you come across does indeed play an important part in the story is very well thought out. You really need to take note of every detail in this one.
The character development was fantastic, I found myself really liking people that common-sense states I shouldn’t. Susan has just the right mix of remorse, anger, and confusion to make you really like and sympathise with a woman who is essentially a child-killer. Cassie has enough sass, humour, and compassion to make you warm to yet another murderer. And Nick plays the sleazy-journalist-turned-knight-in-shining-armour role very well. Even your ‘bad guys’ are well developed and some real depth is given to their darkness. Ok so their past may have been a little clichéd, but I was willing to let that one slide as it was a cliché that I genuinely didn’t foresee.
How I Lost You is a real nail-biter steeped in mystery, suspense, tragedy and unknown danger. And it is a cracking read for any fan of the psychological thriller!
My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.