Book review: Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

Monday, May 20, 2019 Permalink

I’d had a bit of a reading break when I picked up my iPad to read an advance copy of Forget Me Not by Claire Allan. And of course, instinct kicked in and I had to keep turning page after page (well, electronic page after page) until I’d finished the book.

It was the kind of read that – at about three-quarters of the way through – I thought an earlier prediction re the whodunit had been right – but then Allan introduces a twist I didn’t see coming.

Book review: Forget Me Not by Claire AllanForget Me Not
by Claire Allan
Published by Avon
on May 30th 2019
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 9780008321925
Pages: 352

It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road.

Clare dies minutes later, but not before whispering her haunting last words to Elizabeth.

When it becomes clear that Clare’s killer has more than one murder on his mind, Elizabeth has to take drastic action or face losing everything. But what if she can’t stop a killer determined never to be forgotten?

The book opens with the disappearance of a woman. It’s written in first person and I wondered if we were going to get a The Lovely Bones type scenario, where the entire book is written by someone who’s died, or What Came Before by Anna George, narrated by someone who’s near death.

But no, it’s just the prologue. Allan then takes us back a week or two (though we don’t know that at that the time) to the discovery of a dying woman and introduces us to our two narrators.

It’s 67yr old Elizabeth who finds the dying woman, dumped in a remote area of her Derry neighbourhood.

Then we meet Rachel, a teacher and mother of two who’s struggling with her marriage and on the cusp of an affair. The murder victim is Rachel’s close friend and comes on top of the death of her mother from cancer years earlier. We learn she’s already been struggling with grief and has disconnected a little from her life.

Allan paces this thriller well and there’s a sense of uncertainty in the beginning. The pace quickens then as the police, Rachel and Elizabeth try to work out who killed Clare and might now be targeting others involved in the case. And of course the why? Is it because of their interest in Clare’s death, or is there something more at stake?

Rachel’s link to the victim is obvious but Elizabeth’s is far more tenuous. Her discovery of the dying woman was random, though as we learn she’s lost a husband and her own daughter prematurely she feels a sense of obligation to the woman’s family.

I should mention that there’s a clear suspect from the beginning. Clare had been ‘dating’ someone and been quite secretive about him but after her death all trace of him has disappeared.

So it seems kinda obvious ‘who’ our killer might be. The why is not entirely clear, and is perhaps a tad nebulous anyway. There’s the twist I mention, and even perhaps another at the end. I think.

Although not overtly (or overly) deep and meaningful, there’s an underlying theme here of grief, regret and guilt.

Elizabeth is grieving her daughter and feels guilty that she wasn’t able to do more to protect her. She’s lonely now and there’s a sadness about the life she’s left with. And we learn Rachel’s a shadow of her former self, having locked away part of herself after her mother’s death and disengaged a little from those around her, including her husband and long-time best friends.

Both narrators are strong characters and Allan gives us good insight into their lives… as they are now and context around how they’ve gotten there. The support cast – Rachel’s daughters and husband and her friend Julie (who shatters after the death of their mutual long-time friend) are also well-shaped and felt very real.

Forget Me Not by Claire Allan will be published by Avon Books (Harper Collins UK) and available from 30 May 2019.

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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