Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner comes recommended by many of my favourite thriller writers. In fact quotes take up the entire back cover so I didn’t read the blurb before diving in. I’m assuming I did so before requesting it, but that was probably a few months ago.
I was worried then when the book opened with a fertility-challenged woman (Helen) who’s seven months pregnant. At her first antenatal class she meets a snarky young woman (Rachel) who quickly insinuates herself into Helen’s world. I imagined several tropes that have been done-to-death: the single-white-female thing with Rachel coveting Helen’s life; Rachel faking a pregnancy for nefarious reasons; or Rachel seeking revenge for a long past deed.
However, though this novel touches on a couple of those scenarios, Faulkner takes us in an unexpected direction. So, although it seems obvious where our suspicion and mistrust should lie, there are some twists which kept me turning page after page, keen to see where we’d be taken.Greenwich Park
by Katherine Faulkner
Published by Raven Books
Source: Bloomsbury ANZ
Genres: Psychological Thriller
When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband Daniel to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena.
What she is not expecting is Rachel.
Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen's friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret…
Faulkner name-drops a few cast members early on here, referencing Helen’s Cambridge University days. It’s when she met her husband Daniel and her life became intertwined with her brothers’ and their partners. Happily it’s easy to keep everyone sorted in your head once we actually meet them.
The blurb makes is obvious that Rachel has an agenda (something I didn’t read before embarking on this book obviously!) so the sense of uncertainty around her and the feeling of menace is warranted.
Our narrators are Helen, Serena and Katie (a journalist and girlfriend of Helen’s other brother) in addition to excerpts from an unknown woman. Our mystery narrator seems manipulative, and in the midst of a seemingly sordid affair. Faulkner gives us some good insight into each of the three other women, though predominantly through their observations about others.
We’re probably bond with Helen the most though she’s a quixotic kind of character. She’s easy to like but a bit too ingenue-like and there’s a sense that something’s a little off. She seems very attached to her past and – though she’s an adult obviously – refers often to her (deceased) parents as Mummy and Daddy (and I know they’re monikers used by rich British peeps, but still). There’s vague reference to the fact her parents should have been happy for Daniel to take her off their hands, which gives the sense that there are secrets lurking in her past.
We meet them at what should be joyous times but their lives start to unravel. Helen’s husband Daniel is in business with her brother Rory and there are obviously problems. Rory’s wife Serena suspects her husband has been unfaithful though the pair play the perfect married couple. Katie’s covering a rap trial which seems to unnerve her friends. Everyone is hiding something from the others. Particularly Rachel.
I probably should have also mentioned that the book opens, via a letter to Helen: seemingly written from prison by someone wanting her to learn the truth behind the events that put them there.
This novel was a bit of a sleeper for me. It wasn’t really on my radar but I enjoyed it more and more as I progressed. Faulkner offers us believable and relatable characters and a twisty plot that is ultimately very satisfying. Just when it feels overly obvious or predictable Faulkner changes direction. In a good way and making this one of my favourites this year so far.
Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner was published in Australia by Bloomsbury and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.