Twenty years ago
21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.
She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier -
and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.
A body's been found.
And Francesca's drawn back to the seaside town she's tried to forget.
Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out.
Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn't returned.
Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.
The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.
But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now's the time to find out - isn't it?
Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear - your family, your sanity and even your life . . .
I've just finished reading this book and all I can say is WOW!! It's just brilliant!!
"I've been running from my past. Now the past has caught up with me."
Francesca (Frankie) Bloom is a successful businesswoman working in the hotel industry in London. One day she receives a call that drags her right back to the very past she tried so hard to forget. She's informed that after eighteen years missing, her best friend Sophie's body was recovered from the sea by the seaside town of Oldcliffe-On-Sea, where they used to live as youngsters.
With tears in her eyes and memories flooding her mind, Frankie rushes to Oldcliffe to help Daniel, Sophie's brother, identify her best friend's remains and to find the answers to the questions that have haunted her ever since that tragic night when Sophie went missing, leaving behind a shell-shocked town and just a lonely trainer perched on the old derelict pier.
"I knew her. And she wasn't herself before she died... Something was wrong."
What had happened to Sophie? Who or what had lured her to the old pier that night? Frankie and Daniel are determined to find out but it's soon apparent that someone is not happy with their enquiries. Someone wants to stop them and scare Frankie away. And the locals seem to know more than they are letting on. But why? Will they ever find out what really happened to Sophie? Was it just an unfortunate accident? Suicide? ... Or murder? And what secret did Sophie and Frankie share? What had they done?
I was simply captivated by this book. The writing is very mature and the plot is creative, ingenious and very atmospheric with great vivid descriptions. I could visualise the seafront at Oldcliffe with its cafes and hotels, the tourists on the promenade enjoying the views. I could almost feel the rush of sea water as waves crashed on the seawalls. And I could clearly imagine the old mysterious pier shrouded by fog and battered by wind, rain and the waves.
Chapters alternate between Frankie's and Sophie's povs. Frankie's chapters are set in the present when she returns to Oldcliffe. She's riddled by grief and guilt and finds herself frequently 'talking' to Sophie in her head. Sophie's chapters are from 1997 as she is 'writing' in her diary about her life and relationships.
If there ever was one book that keeps you guessing till the end... This is it! I was immediately suspicious of one character, but then as the story progressed I realised that there were indeed MANY potential suspects. All characters seem shifty and to be hiding something. By the end I was totally and completely taken by surprise by the turn of events. I was NEVER expecting that finale...ever and I think it's very clever and original!
I really had a great time reading this book and I highly recommend it. Well done Claire Douglas, you're a very talented lady!
With huge thanks to Penguin UK, Michael Joseph for approving my request to read and review this book through Netgalley.
Claire Douglas has worked as a journalist for fifteen years writing features for women's magazines and national newspapers, but she's dreamed of being a novelist since the age of seven. She finally got her wish after winning the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award, with her first novel, The Sisters. She lives in Bath with her husband and two children.