I first discovered Penny Hancock when I read The Darkening Hour (click through to read my review), a haunting tale where nobody is as they seem, everyone has hidden depths and secret agendas and the reader spends the whole book trying to work out who is the real villain and who is the innocent victim in the story.
A Trick of the Mind has a completely different atmosphere but many of the attributes of her previous novel became apparent the more I read. We discover Ellie, slightly neurotic but seemingly kind-hearted and likeable, heading down to the coast for a weekend with her friends in the beachside house that she has inherited from her beloved aunt. Driving down a twisty country lane, she hears a bump on the side of the car but assumes it's just a branch. When she hears about a hit-and-run accident, she becomes convinced she is the culprit and tracks down the victim in hospital, just to set her mind to rest. When he wakes up with amnesia and assumes that she is his girlfriend, Ellie feels duty bound to stay with this man whose life has been shattered, along with his leg. The fact that he is really rather attractive means that it's no great hardship. But Ellie hides the truth and becomes entwined in a web of lies - not all of them hers.
It's a chilling read that reminded me of the film, Sleeping With The Enemy. As you progress through the novel, you find yourself inwardly screaming at Ellie to see the warning signs and not get sucked in, but you can also put yourself in her shoes and see how she feels that she has no choice but to stay in this tricky predicament of her own making. It's a skilfully woven plot that gives plenty of clues along the way so that you can try to piece things together, even when you're not entirely sure who is telling the truth most of the time.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £12.99
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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