Tuesday, 12 June 2018

In The Wake - Helen Treverrow

Helen Treverrow's debut novel is released from Urbane Publications on 28th June

When a body is found floating in London's Royal Albert Dock, public relations expert Kay Christie is sent to quiet the media, but things become complicated when it emerges she knows the victim.

Centered around the Excel center in London, a major exhibition is overshadowed by this body being found.  A convoluted narrative structure involving Kay's father who works at the exhibition hall, and the tightly knit support network around her starts to unravel as secrets much like the body rise to the surface.

Opening with the disappearance of a French nurse from her London hospital around Christmas time - the imagery Trevorrow evokes the harshness and cold of the London winter is depicted succinctly, showing the combination of how lonely the big city can be when you are questioning your own decisions in life.

Kay is in her 40s, gay and partnered with Julia, a woman who is enjoying an Indian summer with high-profile media commitments; and yet Kay is not happy. Kay drinks regularly, she is in love with her job but not in love with her routine. The introduction of a female police officer, Polly - younger and vital stirs some lustful yearnings within her which has been absent for sometime.

This melodramatic shift to a women's narrative in unison with the crime story is a risky venture, and on occasion the crime story struggles to be heard beside the Sapphic storyline; at times this reader felt that the love scenes were overpowering the actual crime story narrative and the interest in the case being solved.  Kay is an intelligent, successful woman and yet her life is full of quandry with Treverrow delicately explaining her psyche following a sexual assault from years past; which is told to us in flashback.

And much in the vein of recent 'Girl' novels who are either gone or on a train; all men in the piece are not to be trusted.  The ending of the story comes in a roundabout way also, when the motives of the assailant and the discovery of the vital clues come to ahead.

Cynically this could be described as telegraphed narratively as you never really know who your friends are, the novel at times was a struggled to grab my attention.  Ultimately, this is a shame, as the start of the book was so promising with the nurse's disappearance and then the cut and thrust of an exhibition coming to life along with the crisis management Kay puts in place.  Kay at work is a lot better than Kay at home, and perhaps a focus on the crisis rather than the dream scenario might have been better.

Not to sound too dismissive of the novel, as it will gain an audience and perhaps I myself is not the person who it has been written for; yet it will garner attention to succeed, yet like me you feel Kay has a lot more stories to tell.

In The Wake is released from Urbane Publications on Thursday 28th June.

My thanks to the publishers for the opportunity to write this review, and be a part of the blog tour

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