What Lies Within – Tom Vowler

Title – What Lies Within

Author – Tom Vowler

Published – 2013

Genre – Psychological

This is one of a number of books that I am overdue in reviewing and wanted to complete before the end of 2013. It’s therefore a happy coincidence that this is a book that would benefit from a shorter review to avoid spoilers. I saw Tom Vowler on one of the ‘fresh blood’ panels at Crimefest in May and I think even he was struggling to tell people about the story without saying too much.

To lie: to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive. From the fibs and white lies we tell others to the complete deception we can perform on ourselves – this book makes you think about the ways in which we deceive and what we might be prepared to do to protect the status quo.

There are two main storylines, both told by women in the first person. There is a young teacher who is brutally attacked in her own home. Although not dwelling on the details of the attack we experience the physical and emotional aftermath through the victim’s eyes. This certainly makes for a moving and a harrowing read.

The other storyline features an artist, a mother of two living in a remote cottage on the edge of Dartmoor, when a prisoner escapes. Although the family is not overly concerned by the idea of a convict being on the run the events do bring an air of tension to the household – although the reason isn’t immediately obvious.

As the multiple storylines converge in both time and location events head towards a gripping conclusion.

It’s relatively unusual for a man to write with his main character as a woman and in the first person and I sometimes felt that Vowler was overworking the emotional side of things. I felt more comfortable (although that’s perhaps not the right word) where the narrative was taken on by the male characters. I was a little disappointed in the ending – there was a huge build up of tension and I felt a little let down by the resolution, but then I am quite particular about how I like books to end.

A thought-provoking and sometimes harrowing read. You can see another point of view on Fiction Fan’s blog and it features as one of Rhian’s top books of 2013 – It’s  A Crime! Thank you to Headline for my review copy.

Score – 4/5

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6 comments

  1. Thanks for the link. 🙂

    This was one of my favourite books this year. Oddly, one of the things I liked most was that I felt he got the woman’s voice pretty accurately. He’s an author I’ll definitely be watching for in the future.

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