Review – How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

By | May 1, 2015

They told her she killed her son. She served her time. But what if they lied?

I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? 

My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life.

This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? 

If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

How I Lost You by debut crime novelist Jenny Blackhurst has been available on Kindle since October 2014, and I think it would be fair to say that it has attracted a few pretty scathing reviews amid all the praise that’s been heaped on it. It was released in paperback by Headline on 23rd April, and, having read about it so much on all the book-related sites I visit, it really felt like time I should give it a try. 

I read it over two unseasonably hot days in the garden – days when I had so many other things I should have been doing.  But this was a quite excellent read that I found totally impossible to set aside – those more scathing reviews were most definitely wrong.

As with all psychological thrillers, it’s really difficult to review this one without giving away major plot twists and turns – but you’ll see the start point of the story in the blurb I’ve quoted above. It’s a quite exhausting read, fast paced, gripping, full of twists and turns. Susan/Emma is sympathetically drawn, and you really find yourself rooting for her – even if you don’t like her that much. And given her background, she’s extraordinarily trusting of everyone she comes across, including journalist Nick. Her strong friendship with Cassie is wonderful though – her friend and protector in prison, her friend and protector still. Most of the book’s gentle humour comes through Cassie too – as does the most accurate and realistic view of what’s going on.

The flashbacks that run through the book seem to have little connection to the story of Susan/Emma, but the clues are there if you look for them – I think I started to “click” around halfway through the book. But the ending came as a tremendous shock and surprise – I could have guessed it, but I didn’t (and I bet you won’t either).
I think it’s fair to say that this book does have some minor issues – not least the suspension of disbelief needed around some of the decisions made by Susan/Emma. But it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, a book you’ll find absolutely impossible to put down, and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone. I’ll be fascinated to see what Jenny Blackhurst does next.

Jenny Blackhurst grew up in Shropshire where she still lives with her husband and children. 

Growing up she spent hours reading and talking about crime novels – writing her own seemed like natural progression. 

Inspired by the emotions she felt around her own son’s birth, How I Lost You is Jenny’s debut crime novel.

(P.S. Jenny spends almost as much of her time on Twitter as I do, and I’m quite certain she would be delighted if you follow her!)

5 thoughts on “Review – How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

  1. Linda Boa

    Great review Anne – tbh I'd not really seen any bad reviews, but as I have this hear to read and review I'm glad any that do exist are wrong! The Broken also sounds really up my street – you're horrendous for my TBR pile! And I'm relieved I'm not the only one who gets behind with reviews! One of these days I'm convinced I'll get the plots of books utterly confused!

  2. Anne Williams

    Thanks for commenting Linda – I know a number of bloggers who similarly increase my TBR pile! Long may it continue… x

  3. Beauty Balm

    Really enjoyed this book. So many I've added to my kindle from The Book Club on Facebook 🙂

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