A cheating wife. An estranged mother. But is she guilty of murder?
Please raise your right hand.
An affair at work has cost Julia Winter her job and her marriage. There’s no denying she has let her family down.
Please remain standing.
When a body is discovered on the North Downs, it hits local headlines. But for Julia, the news is doubly shocking because the body was buried just opposite the house she lived in over twenty years ago. And it is one of her former housemates.
Please resume your seat.
Up on the stand, Julia’s not the only person to have secrets that are unearthed during the trial. But the evidence against her is overwhelming.
And yet one question remains: is she the murderer, or the victim? Jurors, you may be excused.
Set over a now and then timeline in Guilford and London the reader is immersed in a story where guilt, jealousy, friendships, fear, conspiracy, secrets, lies, coercion, manipulation, threats and greed are all intertwined in the search for the truth and justice.
OMG BOOM! What an opening. It is short and sharp but delivers that killerhook that had me itching to know more. But that wasn’t it – Oh no…the author decides to throw in another WTAF chapter that made sure I wasn’t leaving my chair until I finished the book! Brilliant! Told from the first person POV, and a timeline that takes us into the past while reminding us of the current situation, pieces of the puzzle are neatly dropped in to tease the reader. Although elements of the story were paced quickly, there is a deliciously slow build up of suspense and when the penny drops…well jaysus, I was thrown and loved every minute of it! I would describe this novel as a psychological/legal thriller but only because of the court room scenes which added a great flair to the revelations.
This novel was full of some diverse and interesting characters, from the eccentric to the downright sinister, the reader will find themselves wondering who they should believe. Julia Winter is, however, the main character and the story is told through her eyes in the main. Poor, poor Julia. At 48 years old she is living in a bedsit after the collapse of her marriage. She’s insecure, unsure, but there is a strength within her that slowly comes to the surface once she receives a text that will change her life. I found her to be realistic and relatable although at times I did just want to shake her – she was certainly a well developed character that pulled on the emotions, whether that be sympathy, empathy or downright frustration!
A few other characters really stood out, although everyone mentioned in novel has a part to play, I definitely was drawn to the following peeps for various reasons. The landlady is an eccentric, substance misuser who has a haunting past and opens up her home to lodgers. What a character! She totally creeped me out at times and I had this Betty Davis like picture in my mind every time she was mentioned in the novel.
Brandon was another one that stuck out. I didn’t find him to be very likeable at all, yet I wanted to know more about him. Weird right?!
Gideon reminded me of those slimy salespeople or that character from the Netflix film – YOU. I took an instant dislike to him, but if you asked me why – I wouldn’t be able to pin point it.
Alan was just a follower. Jealous of others and probably scared of his own shadow. I didn’t take to him either.
What I loved about this novel was that even though you could see things about the characters in hindsight, you can never quite put your finger on what there importance is…until HOLY FRIGGIN SH*TBALLS – you’re given one hell of an OMG-moment and all becomes a little more clear…or does it?
So what’s my VERDICT? If you are looking for a novel that will have you reeling, one full of intensity, conflict, suspense and some cracking twists – then this is the book for you! Highly recommended – grab a copy of The Verdict today!