The Devil’s Work, by Mark Edwards

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Mark Edwards, and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.

In his latest psychological thriller, Mark Edwards pushes things to the limit again while drawing the reader into a world of suspense and horror. After a four year hiatus, Sophie Greenwood is looking to get back to work in the highly competitive world of book publishing. Recently hired by Jackdaw Books, Sophie is living her dream, though it does stir up a little unease. Sophie has dreamed of working for Jackdaw since she was a little girl, but its owner, Franklin Bird, has kept her from living that dream until now. Introduced to her new team, Sophie seeks to acclimate herself to the hustle and bustle of the job while having numerous flashbacks to her early college days and best friend, Jasmine, who happens to be the granddaughter of the aforementioned Mr. Bird. As the days go on, things begin happening in the workplace that leave Sophie extremely vulnerable or off her mark, some of which might be tied back to her assistant, Cassie Said. Sophie has seen Cassie’s schoolgirl innocence change at the drop of a hat, producing a take-no-prisoners woman who will accept no blame for even the smallest foible. After her daughter briefly goes missing during a workplace event, Sophie begins to turn her concerns into outright accusations, sure that Cassie is trying to push her buttons. When Sophie’s husband, Guy, gets caught up in the mess and is found to be interacting with Cassie, home life takes a definite turn towards the frigid, leaving Guy and Sophie at a crossroads. While it could be a number of coincidences, Sophie cannot shake that there is something sinister going on, with her as the central target. While Sophie’s flashbacks continue, the reader sees a parallel in the dramatic update in that storyline with Sophie’s current paranoia. Could someone be trying to get rid of Sophie from her position at Jackdaw? She begins digging around and discovers there may be more going on that meets the eye. However, Sophie learns the hard way that sometimes things are best left alone, unless you’re willing to face the dire consequences. Edwards develops this thriller in such a way that no reader will be able to put it down until all is revealed.

Just as his biographical note states, Mark Edwards is an author of psychological thrillers where innocent people are pulled into extraordinary situations. This novel is by no means an exception to the rule. The reader is slowly pulled deeper into the plot until there is no escape. With a wonderful balance of present and past narratives, the reader views Sophie Greenwood as a well-adjusted student, then mum, who is looking to achieve her dreams. Life progresses peacefully until one event turns everything on its head and Sophie is forced to scramble in order to protect herself. All characters are highly realistic and keep the story flowing nicely, each with their own nuances, if not flesh-out backstory. It is the subtle progression of the plot and the fluid narrative that makes this book great, in true Edwards fashion. The author wants the reader to wonder, to ponder, to remain uncertain as they navigate further along. Edwards hits the reader with drama and action at the most opportune times, when their guard is down. One could almost say the reader is Sophie Greenwood, feeling her pain and understanding her angst. However, there is always that niggling wonder as to whether things are being extrapolated to fit what is easiest for Sophie to explain. By the time the reader reaches the end, everything comes crashing down and there is no doubt, though by then it may be too late for Sophie, and is surely past the point of no return for the reader. Mark Edwards will subsume you, if not invade your every thought. Beware reader, once you start this novel, you’ll never be able to put it down, even if you want to!

Kudos, Mr. Edwards for another stellar piece of work. Be it writing alone or part of a team, you never fail to impress.