There was a moment or two after I started this book that I worried it was one by Lisa Unger I’d already read – one, in fact, I’d heard her introduce at a writers festival I attended in Brisbane in 2008 or so (ed: which I later discovered was Die For You).
I knew I’d read a recent book of hers with a similar name (ed: which I’m now assuming was In The Blood, #blood #skin #whatevs) and wondered if this was a re-release though it seemed different enough that I didn’t remember it in enough detail to have read it before.
I’d started reading it on a plane however, so it wasn’t until a stopover (and access to the internet) I could and confirm this was – in fact – a new release.Under My Skin
by Lisa Unger
Published by Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd, HarperCollins - AU
on September 23rd 2018
Genres: Psychological Thriller
It's been a year since Poppy's husband, Jack, was brutally murdered during his morning run through Manhattan's Riverside Park. In the immediate aftermath, Poppy spiraled into an oblivion of grief, disappearing for several days only to turn up ragged and confused wearing a tight red dress she didn't recognize. What happened to Poppy during those lost days? And more importantly, what happened to Jack?
The case was never solved, and Poppy has finally begun to move on. But those lost days have never stopped haunting her. Poppy starts having nightmares and blackouts--there are periods of time she can't remember, and she's unable to tell the difference between what is real and what she's imagining. When she begins to sense that someone is following her, Poppy is plunged into a game of cat and mouse, determined to unravel the mystery around her husband's death. But can she handle the truth about what really happened?
I’ve been a little hard on Unger of late as I’ve not ‘loved’ her The Hollows series or her journey into the other-worldly stuff. I mean, give me a good ol’ whodunnit or psychopathic serial killer any day.
There are a couple of references to (The Hollows), but only in passing. There is however a sense of the unknown as Poppy went AWOL after her husband’s death and has been having increased dreams about the what-ifs or things that may – or may not – have happened during the time she was missing.
Her therapist calls it hypnagogia from sleep deprivation… resulting in micro-sleeps, meaning you’re often not aware you’ve fallen asleep (and dreaming). And Poppy herself admits that the mix of various pills and alcohol she’s been consuming probably have been playing a role in her confusion.
Nevertheless she’s forced to question what is actually happening vs what she is dreaming vs what she’s perhaps remembering… from the days after her husband’s murder; and she struggles to find answers.
Unger’s introduced a strong support cast, with their own stories to tell and I very much liked the fact that Poppy basically had to visit many of the players and piece her time – including that from before her husband’s murder – back together. Things weren’t as rosy as she’d been thinking, she’s reminded. He was preoccupied, she’s reminded.
And then there’s a sense of Poppy having ‘lost’ herself…. even before Jack’s death and needing to rediscover her true self as well as understand her husband and his possible secrets.
I really enjoyed this. There were a couple of coincidences or plot holes: exactly how / why she had the memory loss was never explained as I didn’t think she was addicted to pills etc when she went missing; and I wasn’t really convinced re the final motive given what we find out about those involved and their tendencies…. (can’t say more cos of spoiler thing!)
But this is a twisty read that will have readers wondering how well they know the people in their lives, and contemplating the secrets that those closest to them may be keeping.
Under My Skin by Lisa Unger was published in Australia by Harper Collins and is now available.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.