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Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay

You can always trust a novel by Linwood Barclay. First, for the pacey and exciting story. Second, for the new slant, the fresh and innovative centre at the heart of the narrative and finally, for the characters who are engaging and just a little quirky.

Barclay’s latest, Take Your Breath Away fulfils all of those. It’s also aptly titled. Towards the end, I literally was holding my breath with each new twist, each possibility, each new danger and surprise.

Six years ago, Andrew Mason’s wife, Brie, vanished from their home while he was on a weekend fishing trip with his closest friend. Andrew not only must endure the deep grief of losing his wife, but he is considered the main suspect in, what the police-and most other people in the town, it seems- believes is her murder. Since there is no body or strong enough evidence of foul play, the police know they can’t convict him. Still, they are watching.

Within the next six years, Andrew must come to terms with the suspicion which surrounds him and the loss of friendships that has meant. He makes a new life, meets a new woman. His life is back on track.

Except, is it? A woman who strongly resembles Brie is in town. She revisits their old home, waves to her family and visits Brie’s dying mother in hospital. Can it be her? Could Brie possibly have returned from wherever she was or is this some kind of a sick joke? More worryingly, is there a more sinister angle to this woman’s appearance?

Brie’s possible return is the premise for the narrative. After her appearance the story brims with action, questions and possibilities, leaving the reader with the most crucial question. What happened to Brie and who is responsible?

Barclay’s writing is vivid, the pace hums, the characters each have stories to tell which enrich and add to the development of the narrative. Highly recommended. A great book to read over the coming Easter break.

Reviewer: Paddy Richardson

HarperCollins: 2022


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