I never quite got round to reading one of Patricia Dixon’s books when they focused on French countryside life – the naughty dogs, difficult in-laws and sweltering summers. Her latest, Over My Shoulder, published in May 2017 and available for kindle and in paperback, is something very, very different – and maybe not my usual kind of read at all. But I have to say I was blown away by it… an absolutely excellent read.
This is a dark and gripping romance which tells of a nice young girl who met a very bad man. Sounds simple? Not really. By the time the girl realised the depths of his wicked soul and a wiser, braver young woman was about to emerge, it was too late. His twisted roots had wrapped around her life, spreading rapidly, taking a firm hold of her confused head and fragile heart. There was to be no escape from the tangled mess unless it was on his terms and even then, once she was free and her life rolled precariously on, the seeds he had sown remained embedded deep within. When she least expected it he would return and make good his promise, exact revenge and ensure she paid any price he felt owed.
Set in Manchester in the early nineties, Over My Shoulder is an intricate tale of blinkered love and obsession. This gripping psycho-sexual thriller with criminal undertones tracks the life of a young woman, from her carefree mid-twenties right up to present day. Freya falls under the spell of controlling and manipulative Kane and soon, her life changes beyond her wildest imagination. When the luxurious life she craves gradually becomes intolerable, escape is out of reach.
This is a disturbing story of an affluent life, cleverly camouflaging the sinister underworld which funds it. And just when you think it is all over, there is a twist. When will it end, can it end?
“Gripping” and “page-turner” are so over-used, but this book grabbed me from the very beginning and didn’t let go until the very last page. The confessional style – Freya talking direct to the reader about her younger self and the dreadful mistakes she made, in the hope that others might learn from them – works just perfectly. You might not even like her very much at the outset – she’s lamentably naive, dazzled by the high life, happy to throw away everything for an exciting new love affair and a lifestyle she didn’t dare dream about, ignoring the warnings from everyone around her. And it doesn’t take long for her dream to turn into a living nightmare, as she becomes totally isolated from her previous life and trapped in a world of cruelty and evil that she finds impossible to escape.
The writing is hard-hitting – all the acts of menace and cruelty are described in detail, sometimes quite difficult to read, but equally difficult to look away from. But there’s a great deal more about this story than cataloguing every dreadful act – your empathy for Freya grows throughout the book, as the more overt nastiness turns into a more insidious kind of menace, with a build-up of tension to an almost unbearable level. And just when you think you might be able to breath again, there’s the twist in the story – and for the last quarter you find yourself hurtling through the darkness again, at breakneck speed, to the shocking climax.
This is such clever writing, the story all the more disturbing because of its grounding in the ordinariness of Manchester in the 90s – family life, Sunday dinners, boyfriends with grimy fingernails, relatives who fall short of being villains but sail just the right side of the line. The characters are excellent – I loved Freya’s dodgy uncle, her brother, her long suffering flatmate. And as for Kane – although I might initially have been as dazzled as Freya, he becomes totally despicable, unbearably evil and menacing, but always totally convincing.
If you enjoy psychological thrillers and crime, I’d recommend this one most highly. And even if – like me – it’s not your usual kind of book, you might find yourself totally enmeshed in it too. I certainly was… fantastic writing.
And in case you think it’s just me… here’s some of what people are saying about Over My Shoulder…
Dark and disturbing story of power and control. A growing sense of menace creeps through every page, leading to a thrilling climax. – Sue Fortin #1 Bestselling author of The Girl Who Lied and Sister Sister
A fast-paced, chilling read! I was hooked from page one. Over My Shoulder is both addictive and intriguing – a must-read for all crime fiction fans. – Linda Huber Bestselling author of Ward Zero and Chosen Child
A highly original take on a sadly common topic. A five star read that will plague your thoughts for days. – Louise Mullins Bestselling author of What I Never Told You.
My thanks to author Patricia Dixon for my reading e-copy.
About the author
Patricia Dixon lives in Manchester and is the author of five novels. After a career in fashion she swapped all things fabric for bricks and mortar, working alongside her husband where she ran his building company and now, with an empty nest, finally has time to write.
The All for Love series is set in the Loire where Patricia has a holiday home, a place to close to her heart and from where she gathers inspiration for her characters and tales of French countryside life. Patricia’s sixth novel, Over My Shoulder, is a darker, psychological tale told from the viewpoint of a young woman, reliving the past.