One, two, three . . .
Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace.
The police, the media and Lisa’s family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn’t a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa’s little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?
Had the description of While My Eyes Were Closed by Linda Green not already attracted me to it, there’s a tremendous quote from author Amanda Prowse on the book’s Amazon page that really clinched it:
“A beautifully crafted novel of knife-edge suspense that held my attention to the very end. I wanted to compare the author to Gillian Flynn or Alice Sebold, but that wouldn’t be right. This book is one hundred percent Linda Green, and Linda Green is bloody brilliant!”
Already a kindle best-seller, While My Eyes Were Closed is released in paperback today (5th May) by Quercus, and I’m delighted to offer the chance to win a copy below. But first, did Amanda get it right?
I do have an admission to make. I read a book by Linda Green once before – Things I Wished I’d Known. It was back in 2010, when I liked to think I was a bit of a literary reader, and I was – to my great shame – a little bit sniffy about it. I even gave it two stars – but did say it “wasn’t bad”. I’m really rather pleased that my lukewarm appreciation didn’t damage Linda Green’s writing career… and with just over 550 four and five star reviews for the e-version of this book, others seem to think she’s come along quite nicely too.
This is a psychological thriller – but then again, it really isn’t. The lost child scenario is a common one in novels at the moment, to the extent that I’d actually started to avoid them. But this one was very different, and exceptionally well done – mainly because the reader has considerably more insight into what has actually happened than the increasingly desperate family or the police investigators. But not total insight, by any means – there are elements of the story that shock the reader too, as various links and connections are made.
The characterisation is wonderful – the family itself, and the other main protagonists. I loved the Yorkshireness of it – the mother’s family originally from the wrong side of town (perfectly drawn), unable to cope with all the emotion without wanting to “do something”, fiercely loving and loyal. The familiar elements of a missing child case were really well done – the unfair intrusiveness of the media, the press conferences, the false leads, the searches. And some of the images in this book were really striking – including the whole scene of the disappearance, with the balloon floating slowly away and the echoing cries of the searchers, but also the smaller ones like the tearing up of the newspaper after another damaging headline. It would make a great TV drama – I already have the full cast in my head if Yorkshire TV decide to make it.
There’s excellent use of humour too – light touches, absurdity and incongruousness amid all the solemnity, and the unreliable narration that makes this book something very different. But pointing out exactly what makes it so very different could entirely ruin it for others, and it would be a shame to do that. There’s a grittiness about the storyline, but also an other-worldliness about it at times, because of the use of different viewpoints.
I really admire the way the author has managed to turn the psycho-thriller genre into something so very different, with perfectly paced narrative that keeps you turning the pages. I liked this book very much.
Giveaway (now closed)
With thanks to publishers Quercus, you can win a paperback copy, which they will send direct to the lucky winner – UK residents only. Just leave a comment below, with your email or Twitter contact details if I don’t already know you, telling me why you’d like to win. The winner will be drawn at noon on Tuesday 10th May (now closed).
Update: And the randomly drawn winner is Lorna Holland – congratulations Lorna, just need your address, I’ve sent you a message via Twitter…
Linda Green is an award-winning journalist and has written for the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and the Big Issue. Linda lives in West Yorkshire. While My Eyes Were Closed is her seventh novel.
For more info (including a video trailer and extract) visit her website: you can also join Fans of author Linda Green on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.