Wednesday, July 25, 2018

ARC Review: A Double Life by Flynn Berry

A Double Life
Author: Flynn Berry
Publication: Viking (July 31, 2018)

Description: Claire is a hardworking doctor living a simple, quiet life in London. She is also the daughter of the most notorious murder suspect in the country, though no one knows it.

Nearly thirty years ago, while Claire and her infant brother slept upstairs, a brutal crime was committed in her family's townhouse. Her father's car was found abandoned near the English Channel the next morning, with bloodstains on the front seat. Her mother insisted she'd seen him in the house that night, but his powerful, privileged friends maintained his innocence. The first lord accused of murder in more than a century, he has been missing ever since.

When the police tell Claire they've found her father, her carefully calibrated existence begins to fracture. She doesn't know if she's the daughter of a murderer or a wronged man, but Claire will soon learn how far she'll go to finally find the truth.

My Thoughts: Claire is a doctor in London living a seemingly normal life. Only a very few know that her father was a member of the upper class who was accused of murder and who fled the country rather than face prosecution. Claire was eight when someone broke in to their house and killed the nanny and attacked her mother.

After the attack and the manhunt and Claire's mother being vilified by her father's friends, her mother changed their names and moved the family to Scotland. Claire's brother was only fourteen months old when all these events went on.

It wasn't until Claire was a teenager that she began to do some research on the whole incident that she remembers only in nightmares. She becomes obsessed with finding her father. Even after getting her medical degree and moving to London to begin her career, she can't put the mystery behind her. She tracks and follows her father's friends and ingratiates herself into the life of one of their children to see if they know where her father is now.

Meanwhile, her brother has become addicted to Tramadol - an opioid - and Claire is trying to convince him to go into treatment. She is constantly worried about him and his seizures show her that her worry is justified.

In the continuum of writing styles which range from Hemingway to James Joyce, this book is much nearer the James Joyce end of the spectrum. The present and the past are integrated and entwined through the story. Claire has her mother's diaries to help her recreate the life her mother shared with her husband. She also has some childhood memories which make her question what happened.

My main complaint about the story was that the long buildup of Claire's life and attempt to track down her father comes to quite an abrupt and surprising ending. Fans of introspective mysteries will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
Last winter, I read about a man who was stabbed in the neck by a stranger at the tube station in Walthamstow. He narrowly survived. In an interview afterwards, he said he hoped his attacker received the help he needed. He'd only agreed to the interview to raise awareness of planned cuts in the mental health budget. He said no, he wasn't frightened of using the tube again. Despite the interviewer's best  efforts, he showed no signs of being traumatized. He said he'd decided to think of the attack as he would, say, a bicycle accident.

What would my life have been like if I'd made that decision.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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