Don’t Look Away by Rachel Abbot

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Crime/Thriller
Don’t Look Away by Rachel Abbot

By Carolina Cioara

Don’t Look Away by Rachel Abbot

My introduction to Rachel Abbot happened when I first read Don’t Look Away. The Prologue is enough to send chills down your spine, but also to invite you into the thrilling, spine-tingling world created by this talented writer. Imagine a stranger watching you sleep…

“Her breathing changes. He stands perfectly still. Is she awake? He waits, but she doesn’t stir. Inching his way further into the room, he creeps to the side of the bed, longing to reach out and stroke her silky flesh. He stands motionless, watching but not touching.”

Are you convinced to turn the page? I sure was.

A little background into this novel. It is a gripping mystery, with characters you can’t help but root for, and a real page-turner. When Nancy Holland, a young woman, inherits a cottage in Cornwall, all memories come tumbling back, especially that of her lost sister, Lola, who disappeared eleven years prior. And the cottage was the last place she was seen. It is a tale about skeletons in the closet (and in a cave, literally) appearing upon Nancy’s return, all while DS Stephanie King races to piece together the evidence and find the real criminal before it’s too late and Nancy really falls into trouble.

Abbot’s ability to intertwine points of view, from Nancy to Stephanie makes us readers feel like we are constantly on the edge of our seats. As the story unfolds and we see Nancy asking more questions about her sister Lola, an enigmatic character tries everything to prevent the truth from coming out. We can’t help but squirm and wonder if DS Stephanie King will come to the rescue on time. I found Nancy’s character rather anxious, depressed or worried, which sometimes became a little too much for me. If there is any improvement I could suggest, it would be to add more light-heartedness to the novel to balance out the sombre mood.

On the other hand, I really fell in love with DS Stephanie King. Not only is she a trust-worthy detective who always follows her intuition and seems very competent in her job, but we also see a more personal side. The contrast is what I love. How raw and real her character feels when she takes off her uniform and is just Stephanie, struggling with her partner, Gus, and their on-the-rocks marriage.

I admire Abbot’s style of writing. This is the first novel that I read where the author switches from telling a story in the first person (Nancy Holland), to third person (Stephanie King). I didn’t know writers were allowed to do that, but I suppose in art, everyone is free to express themselves as they think best. In fact, it adds to the story’s sense of suspense, since we just itch for DS King to figure out the clues in time to save Nancy from impending doom, which we are forced to feel and see through Nancy’s first person point of view. Additionally, the novel switches from past to present, trickling back story slowly, without overwhelming us. This technique is not an easy one to acquire as a writer, but Abbot shows clear mastery by balancing out the revealing of information at the right time.

Subplots are also skillfully used as they interweave into the main story nicely to form coherent and satisfying narrative arcs. Nancy’s tumultuous and tragic family history suddenly becomes the driver of the story and DS Stephanie King’s personal struggles and how she overcomes them end up helping her to solve Nancy’s case.

If you like reading novels that almost suffocate you with suspense, this is it. This is a book about the past coming back to haunt you, where there is no escape. Lives are at risk, time is of the essence and you will hold your breath until the most shocking ending is revealed.

Don’t Look Away by Rachel Abbot(c) Carolina Cioara

About Rachel Abbot:

Rachel Abbot broke into the world as an author with her successful novel Only the Innocent in 2011. She hasn’t stopped writing since and she has sold over five million copies worldwide.

Order your copy online here.

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