A vortex of despair gradually drifting away into a black hole of unreconciled guilt and anguish envelops Lisa Fulbrook as she struggles to come to terms with the violent death of her flat mate and best friend Ali.
Both were victims of a knife crime committed by their one time friend Fergus and it’s now survivor’s guilt that stalks Lisa. Haunting flashbacks stifle her mental recovery as she retreats into self-imposed exile with a wall of fear and silence keeping the truth at bay.
Susanna Beard develops a main character held captive by an inability to recollect the events of that deadly evening and her mental entrapment is only gradually relieved by bouts of therapy which expose layers of vulnerability and despair in revelations that both surprise and confuse.
The cloying tension is built up by glimpsed recollections of the fateful evening inexorably slipping through her fingers with periods of lucidity blurring into stress-filled amnesia. Lisa’s emotional crutch is Riley, the dog she adopts from her elderly neighbour, and whose unquestioning devotion provides comfort and consistency in amongst the emotional debris of her life.
Jessica provides solace of a human variety and gives her reason for hope but it is her elderly neighbour John whose quiet acceptance of fate perversely gives her the strength to fight and find the light through the often impenetrable darkness of not knowing.
The acuity of the narrative at times leaves the reader squirming in the therapist’s chair as we relive the realisation that her friend’s manslaughter may not leave Lisa entirely untarnished. The need for closure and the desire for restorative justice lead to an emotional denouemement with hopes for salvation and a salve for all the pain coming from an unexpected source.
The nature of circumstance and fate and the roles they play in shifting the balance of life and death from the prosaic to the extreme are brilliantly captured in this book and in Lisa we have the embodiment of that delicate balance.
- Rich Review rating: