There’s one victim of crime no one notices…
Something is wrong. With her marriage, with her husband, with her. But as she pours her heart out to her diary, it’s clear she doesn’t know what.
Until one explosive night she finds a possible answer.
Suddenly hated and vilified by everyone, she clings to her relationship – even while wondering if she really knows her husband at all…
Invisible is a stunningly powerful, gripping and original psychological thriller of subtle insight that takes you on a twisted journey through one woman’s marriage.
It’s not very often that I write and publish a review on a Sunday – it’s usually my day for pulling things together for the week ahead. But having been in the grip of this wonderful book for the last couple of days, I think I might just burst if I don’t tell everyone about it. I’m sure everyone will remember how much I loved Flowers For The Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite – if you’ve forgotten, you’ll find my review here. (I’d also interviewed Barbara before reading that one, and you’ll find that interview here.)
Having now read Invisible – published in March 2014, available in paperback and for kindle – it initially makes me simply want to repeat some of the words I used in that earlier review. Barbara Copperthwaite writes quite beautifully – the words flow easily and the pages turn, and she makes the chilling and dark, the absurd and horrific into easy reading. Flowers For The Dead was one of my books of the year for 2015 – it’s barely March, but I think I’ve found a book for my 2016 list with Invisible.
This is such a difficult review to write though. I’d avoided all earlier reviews – I hadn’t even read the cover description – and I think that made the impact of the book even more powerful. So it would be unforgivable to tell the story and ruin the experience for others – and “an experience” is the best way to describe it, I think – but this is a very different book from Flowers For the Dead.
The structure is quite excellent, and highly original – the diary of a very ordinary and unnamed housewife (her husband only calls her Babe and Gorgeous), hoping to convince her husband that they should start a family, coping with his mood swings, wondering about the future of their marriage, swinging from joy in her loving relationship to despair and confusion when things don’t go well and she finds herself apologising again for everything being her fault. In fact, for the first quarter of the book, that’s it really – totally absorbing as you wonder where the story might be going, as you live her life with her, feeling her joy as she nestles into her husband’s chest surrounded by the scent of Lynx Africa with a hint of diesel (he’s a long distance lorry driver), recognising the familiar and common, sometimes nodding along in understanding.
Then comes that “explosive night” – the clues and hints were all there – and things can never be the same again. I loved the way she initially clung to her belief that everything would be well, and the way everything slowly and turned, with the reader maybe just a tiny bit ahead of her. The insights into the plight of an innocent victim – of the most unexpected kind – are quite all-consuming. I lived and breathed this book for as long as I read it – and in the times I had to put it down, it occupied my every waking thought. The writing is simply excellent – it’s a book you feel and experience at your core through the narrator’s clear and distinctive voice. My sympathies didn’t really waver, I was in her corner throughout as she worked through every possible emotion and negative thought: it really was a totally gripping read that changed quite a few of my previous perceptions about victims, punishment, friendship and love, and the way in which human beings can behave so dreadfully to each other.
The characterisation was wonderful – the narrator obviously as the mind you occupy and the voice you hear, but also so many of the incidental characters. Some are pure darkness – an evil so horrendous you find yourself gasping in horror – but others give you some hope for the future of humankind. There’s one scene that features her lovely mother – pushed to a point beyond endurance – that brought tears to my eyes. The descriptions – some of them only small touches like a mouthed endearment, a look in the eyes or a facial expression – are so vivid that they’re absolutely real, and totally chilling.
If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller – this book is many things, but I think that’s probably the closest I’ll come to describing it – don’t miss this one, whatever you do. I knew Barbara Copperthwaite wrote superbly, but I really wasn’t expecting this – an absolutely gripping read, and quite unforgettable.
My e-copy of Invisible was my own, purchased from Amazon.
The complexity of the humans behind crime, from the perpetrator to the victim and beyond, are what intrigue Barbara Copperthwaite. She was raised by the sea and in the countryside, where she became a lover of both the written word and the great outdoors. A journalist with twenty years’ experience, who has been editor of a number of national magazines in the UK, her fascination with crime really began during a brief spell working in a men’s prison in her early twenties. When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.
To find out more about Barbara and her books, do visit her website: she also has a Facebook author page, and you can follow her on Twitter.