First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Dawn Goodwin, and Head of Zeus for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
Intrigued when a new author appears on my radar, I eagerly agreed to read the latest novel by Dawn Goodwin. A tale of deception and suspense straddling two time periods, Goodwin pulls the reader into a mystery from the opening chapters and builds on things from there. With a strong narrative and captivating plot, the story gains momentum and leaves the reader begging for more, as all is revealed. A decent story that kept we wondering!
Helen Whitmore does her best to keep a work/home balance in her small English community. Living in her ancestral home, Helen has a blended family full of strong-wiled individuals. She’s doing her best tp keep the peace, which can be harder than it seems.
When Helen’s step-son, Matt, brings a guest over to the house one evening, it ruffles many feathers for various members of the family. Diana is not only beautiful, but has a conniving side that leaves many turning away from her. Helen also notices that Diana may be more mischief than a new sweetheart for Matt.
All the while, Helen is struggling when an old photograph emerges, as well as some taunting secret notes that make idle threats. The two girls in the photo are well-known to Helen, she being one of them. The other is a girl Helen knew in her past, who died in a mysterious manner.
While Helen has numerous flashbacks to her own youth and how Tracey Deane fit into it, she musty also deal with present-day drama. Diana has turned up dead and everyone in the house has a motive for it. While the authorities scramble for answers, Helen must piece it all together to see who might have taken the ultimate step to silence the deceptive Diana. It will bring a flood of old emotions to the surface again, forcing Helen to confront sentiments she long ago buried. Goodwin spins a tale and keeps the reader gripped as things progress at rapid speed.
Dawn Goodwin masters the dual timeline in this piece, telling two independently, yet interwoven, stories, with Helen Whitmore at the centre. The piece flows well and keeps the twists coming until the final chapters, allowing the reader to engage in both the plot and the characters that push it along. While I found myself struggling at times, I chalk it up to a busy mind rather than less than stellar writing. I enjoy stories like this and Goodwin does well to develop things at a pace most can digest with ease. The mystery builds and the tension heightens until all comes crashing together at the climax.
Helen Whitmore is surely a strong protagonist, straddling both timelines throughout this novel. The reader learns much about her and the struggled she has overcome, as well as the layers of secrets she has been forced to keep. for so long. The novel is written in such a way that the reader gets pieces of teen and adult Helen throughout, allowing one to build an idea of how she has become the woman she is today and just how secretive she remains. While there were times I wanted the backstory to be condensed and a focus on the current timeline, I can see why Goodwin presented things as she did, hoping to allow for a thorough explanation to develop, as it relates to modern events.
I struggled, not with the story or its plot, but with some of my own personal connections to the narrative. While things did move along well, I found things lagging at times and I wanted to get to key twists faster. That being said, I think a lot of it had to do with my personal state of mind, rather than Goodwin’s writing. The narrative was strong and moved along well, keeping both timelines progressing throughout. Key characters emerged in both stories and connections could be found where they were needed, with strong development emerging throughout. The plot held together well, offering mysteries and jolting realities in equal measure. I would love to try reading more of Dawn Goodwin’s work to get some comparisons, so I will add at least one more novel to my toppling ‘to be read’ list to see how I feel.
Kudos, Madam Goodwin, for a great story. Your first impact on me was a good one, though I will be sure to read the next of your novels with a clearer head to get a better sense of my overall sentiments.
Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons