Fish-hook, line and sinker!
This was a superb piece of writing; an edge of the seat courtroom drama with twists and turns of back-story, believable and necessary blind alleys and secrecy, and lots of dark undercurrents about relationships between the sexes, the casual violence and patronisation even other women can offer to each other. Sexual politics and the still double-standards on morality, differently held for men and women, act like fish-hooks do – no hope of easily removing without further hurt.
There is little which can be usefully laid out in a review without spoiling the reader’s journey. All I will say is that it took quite a long time for me to really realise why the central character was in that court as a defendant in a murder trial. None of Doughty’s journey red-herrings were at all spurious, and the various shocks she offers are absolutely tight, believable and coherent.
Several reviewers have compared her grasp of believable psychological twisting of the reader, unfurling of character and plot, to Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell in darker, more disturbing psychological mode). For once, such an admiring comparison is accurate.
I’ve been disappointed recently in several sub-psychological crime/thrillers, but recommend this highly. Doughty does not manipulate any of her characters in an unbelievable way.
As long as you accept the premise that the madness of love and lust can strike any of us and make us go places which are surprising, all the rest follows
I like the elegant structure of the book which in the major sections, connects to the work of the central character, a geneticist, and how what is hidden, twisted, subterranean in the journey of the novel echoes that double helix.
This is a perfect summer (or winter holiday) read, but also leaves you thinking.
A story, late on in the book, about a scientific study on how far altruism goes, haunts