“If there’s someone I like to see do well, it’s a fellow writer. If there’s someone I like to see do well even more, it’s a female writer. And if there’s someone I like to see do well even more than that, it’s a female writer from Liverpool. GOOOOOO TEAM!
I’d seen a bit of buzz around Twitter about a new Liverpool thriller called ‘Definitions’ – billed as a cross between Gone Girl and Mean Girls – I was anxious to read it. Anxious in the sense of – would it actually be any good? I’ve been let down so many times by Amazon recommendations (No One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday – don’t do it to yourself, honestly) that I’m always a little wary of trying new authors, especially if I’ve got high hopes for them.
I needn’t have worried. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in about 8 hours – it’s not a short book, I just had a solo trip from Spain and I’m a fast reader.
I won’t give too much of the plot away but the story grabs you immediately as one of the central female protagonists, Gina, is bundled into her own car and kidnapped. She’s engaged to a local businessman, Daniel, with a violent past who runs the family business – the family business with a suspiciously never ending supply of money. Gina sends a text to everyone she knows saying that she’s going away for a few days but her sister Charley, with whom she’s had a difficult relationship, is convinced something more sinister is afoot. The police won’t take her seriously and Daniel’s family completely close ranks on her – even threatening her and telling her to keep her nose out. She finds a series of clues in her sisters private scribblings and it’s a race against time to find Gina before it’s too late. Exactly what’s happened and who’s involved keeps you guessing right up until the very last page.
The story flits between chapters narrated in the present by Charley and chapters narrated by Gina as flashbacks to how her relationship with Daniel developed. Those who have been in an abusive relationship or know someone who has been (or is still) in one will identify with this book, hard. From the outside looking in it can be simple to say, “If he treats you like that, walk away” but it’s really NOT that easy and abuse takes on many forms. This slippery slope is realistically demonstrated, showing the manipulation and isolation techniques used by textbook abusers.
I also really enjoyed how the book constantly referred back to local locations – there’s a scene set in a restaurant overlooking the Childwall Fiveways and a tense car chase along the Dock Road. This just made it all the more real for me as I could imagine the characters in the real life locations.
There was one scene involving a can of fake tan being offered as a tribute at a funeral which I remember shaking my head at thinking, “Oh come on, that’s a bit far!” but I spoke to Clare, the author, who assured me that she debated about including that for a while but it actually did happen. One of those cases where truth is stranger than fiction!
Overall it’s a great read and I would thoroughly recommend it – when’s the next one out Clare??”