Jacqui Lofthouse, Bluethroat Morning (2000)

I’ll keep this review short, because my enthusiasm for this book has been tepid. It had all the right ingredients for a good psychological thriller, but… it didn’t quite work for me. I don’t read that kind of psychological novels, I guess (although I’d be hard pressed to properly define that ellusive kind).

Harry Bliss is a widower, still grieving 6 years after his wife’s suicide by drowning in the North Sea. His wife Allison Oakley, a former model turned successful novelist, had apparently no reason to end her life. She was finishing a novel in a Norfolk village near the Glaven valley and was quite excited about the project. When paparazzi heard that a novel draft had been found burnt in Allison’s cottage, they blamed Harry and Allison’s fans turned against him (which obviously doesn’t help for grieving). A combination of circumstances makes him (of course) return to the crime scene and investigate in depth, together with a 19-year old fan and a potential biographer whom he doesn’t quite trust (not quite the ideal company, of course).

I don’t want to be harsh against this novel because the plot was well crafted, Harry a convincing character, the Norfolk scenery well-enough painted to make me consider a trip there, and the tension encouraged me to read until the end, but… I didn’t quite find Allison so fascinating myself, so I followed more out of pity for Harry, hoping that he would eventually be able to get over the tragic events and move on. I realize that it’s not quite a good reason, not the one intended by the writer, at least.

It’s like a blind date where parties soon discover that they have not much in common. For civility’s sake, you don’t leave after the appetizer, right? It’s not like the guy is offensive either, you don’t want to make a scandal. The conversation drags, you stifle a yawn, talk about the weather and try to make things as pleasant as possible, by enjoying the food and the restaurant’s decor. But in your heart, you didn’t come for them. You know that you’re not that into the guy and that he luckily feels likewise. Then you check the time and say something like: “oh my, it’s so late, I’ve got to go!” and escape to the next… book.

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