I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but I do enjoy them occasionally. This particular psychological thriller is more about keeping secrets: secrets of infidelity, of addiction, of unhappiness, of the lengths people will go to in order to keep something, or someone, they think is theirs. Sophie Knight is unhappy, she’s depressed and turns to alcohol and smoking as a way to drown out her pain. She has an older husband who, while he loves her and will give her any worldly possession Sophie could want, doesn’t offer emotional support. He wants his younger wife to put on a happy face and not talk about her demons. Then, while out with her girlfriend, Sophie meets Michael. An incredibly pretty young man who makes Sophie feel seen, and less lonely. But even the affection of this handsome man can’t stave off Sophie’s demons, and soon the demons don’t stay in her head. Sophie is tormented by something very real, and the life she has built for herself and her husband is now at stake. It sounds really thrilling, but there are some pretty big content warnings that I feel compelled to mention.
The synopsis tells you right off the bat that there is rape and alcohol addiction in this thriller, but that’s not the full extent of it. The rape incident that is implied is part of the bigger mystery, yes, but what isn’t is the abusive relationships—both verbally and physically. Some people are into rough play, and that’s 100% fine, but this wasn’t that, at least it never felt that way as I was reading. Additionally, Sophie is very, very aware of her addiction problems to the point where almost every page of her diary she is drinking and hating herself for drinking, but she never even considers getting help. She seeks marriage counseling with her husband, but when that doesn’t happen, Sophie doesn’t attempt to get herself healthy despite being so aware of her problems. The way alcoholism was presented often came across as a stereotype and simple exploitation for a plot device. Which I found problematic as someone who knows a lot of people who struggle with alcoholism. Additionally, and perhaps what was the most personally triggering to me, was the revenge porn and slut/victim shaming that occurs. I’m not easily triggered, and I honestly wasn’t expecting this book to hit all my buttons the way it did, which is why I feel it’s important to mention. Would I have read the novel had I known to the degree these topics were presented? I honestly don’t know, but I would have at least been prepared which could have had me enjoying the thriller and mystery aspects of the book a lot more.
The story is told in a diary format, which means certain things become repetitive and some characters can feel like stereotypes rather than fully formed people. Much of this I do think is by design because we as humans are very repetitive day to day. The diary format shows the mundane of Sophie’s life as well as the disturbing aspects, and Sophie’s growing obsession with trying to figure out what happened to her that one night. I will say most of the book is more focused on the infidelities and the concealing of secrets, and it’s not until the last 20% of the book that the story and the heart pounding tension really picks up. Sophie’s career and her life with her husband comes crashing down in an epic climax where all the puzzle pieces of who was responsible for her troubles is brought to light. I did guess who was responsible for the mysterious phone calls and all of Sophie’s troubles early on, however, so I wasn’t all that blown away when the big reveal came. Still, I did like that the story was wrapped up and nothing was left unaccounted for.
Part of me feels like this was more a cuckolding story (minus the erotica) first and a thriller second, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for. However, I was personally very upset by how alcoholism was both presented and treated, and I couldn’t stomach the reaction of almost every single character when the revenge porn came out. These issues made it hard for me to connect to the characters, or the story as a whole, and more often I felt bad for Sophie’s husband than our main character. The book is well written, but ultimately I don’t think this was for me, and because of the problematic content, I’m giving it 2.5 stars.
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