Sometimes books work best if you haven’t read the blurb before diving in. I mean, I always read the blurb before deciding whether I’ll request/borrow/buy/read a book (unless it’s one of my go-to authors and Linwood Barclay probably makes that list anyway!) but here for example Barclay opens with a prologue that – had I just read the blurb – I’d realise what was going to happen. Or at least maybe happen. Instead I’d kinda bonded with the likeable (potential) victim, not realising they may soon be gone. So… my breath was [indeed] a little taken away initially.Take Your Breath Away
by Linwood Barclay
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
One weekend, while Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip, his wife, Brie, vanished without a trace. Most people assumed Andy had got away with murder, but the police couldn’t build a strong case against him. For a while, Andy hit rock bottom – he drank too much, was abandoned by his friends, nearly lost his business and became a pariah in the place he had once called home.
Now, six years later, Andy has put his life back together. He’s sold the house he shared with Brie and moved away for a fresh start. When he hears his old house has been bulldozed and a new house built in its place, he’s not bothered. He’s settled with a new partner, Jayne, and life is good.
But Andy’s peaceful world is about to shatter. One day, a woman shows up at his old address, screaming, ‘Where’s my house? What’s happened to my house?' And then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the woman – who bears a striking resemblance to Brie – is gone. The police are notified and old questions – and dark suspicions – resurface.
Barclay offers us an array of characters. Obviously there’s Andrew and he’s one of our narrators so we know exactly how he acted and coped after the disappearance of his wife. We meet his new partner, Jayne, who knows nothing of his past, and Jayne’s troubled younger brother Tyler.
There’s Brie’s family – her mother and siblings who’ve blamed Andrew to varying degrees since her disappearance. And Barclay gives us some backstory into their family and relationships. We also meet Andrew’s former business partner and one remaining friend from the time of Brie’s disappearance.
And finally there’s a detective who doggedly pursued Andrew six years earlier.
Of course (back then) there were secrets uncovered and lies discovered. Relationships weren’t as rosy as suggested. There was infidelity, but we’re told there was also forgiveness.
The reappearance of someone who could be Brie upends everyone’s lives. Jayne worries Andrew will want to pick up where he and Brie left off. Brie’s family wonders if they’ve been wrong in blaming Andrew for all of these years but can’t understand any motive she’d have for disappearing voluntarily or reappearing now.
Interestingly Barclay puts us in the head of the woman who drives to the house she believes is hers and I think that was a mistake as it felt a little misleading in retrospect. I think that element may have been better just told from the neighbour’s point of view.
That aside this is a nice twisty read from the always-reliable Barclay. I guessed whodunnit but certainly didn’t pick several of the surprises that complicated matters for everyone involved.
Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay will be published in Australia by HQ Fiction in early February 2022.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.