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  • Don't-breathe-once paranoid heaven

    I don’t often read psychological thrillers but I love Claire Stibbe’s Temeke series and that has always cranked up the criminal mind/suspense elements so I had to try her latest book. The sideways step in genre really works! The two main characters, Clo and Mo the Ho, are connected far more intimately than by the mere fact of one being Ryan’s wife and one being his mistress. From the moment Clo moves into Marion’s (Mo’s) house, the dialogue crackles with tension. I noted some of the clues (missing tablets, a gun) and couldn’t wait to find out who would gain the upper hand – and stay alive - in this complex tale of at least six obsessive relationships. Domestic abuse features but is not glamourised and I note that the author is donating from book profits to a charity that supports victims. The author has a unique style and, at first, I was brought short sometimes by unusual language. As the novel continued, I found this more and more enjoyable, with high-energy comparisons that bring scenes and characters to life. The exquisite details of setting also make you believe in the story and you live in Clo’s head (a very dangerous place to visit). You can see every room from the bathroom with ‘hardware that gave a nod to feminine beauty and mother-of-pearl inlay’ to the hurricane shutters that stop you escaping. And I would forgive any oddities of style to a writer capable of drawing me in like this:- ‘… She was Pinot obsessive, talking wine 101 for the next two minutes as she led the way into the living-room, swinging a bottle in one hand. Suddenly, the world was on my side.’

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