Title: He Said She Said
Author: Erin Kelly
Published: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.
Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.
And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden . . . something she never could have guessed.
British author Erin Kelly, best known for her novel Broadchurch, which has been successfully adapted for television, combines a domestic psychological thriller with the unusual subject of the eclipse in her novel, He Said She Said. This book is a slow burn style thriller and gives the reader an insight into the world of a couple preoccupied by the eclipse phenomenon, while also tackling issues concerning the justice system, crime and sexual assault.
Eclipse followers Laura and Kit make the pilgrimage to a festival in Cornwall in 1999 to watch this event. Just as the sun and the moon meet, Laura witnesses the aftermath of what she believes to be a rape of a young woman named Beth. Laura and Kit call the police and soon after the perpetrator is apprehended. In the aftermath of this attack, Laura and Kit must go to court to testify what they saw on the day of the eclipse, to ensure that the attacker is convicted for his crime. The after effects from the day of the festival and the resulting trial has a long lasting impact on this young couple. Fifteen years later, Laura and Kit have gone into hiding. They have changed their names and removed themselves from any media attention. But someone from their past is determined to find them and seek retribution for that fateful day of the solar eclipse back in 1999.
The first thing that struck me about He Said She Said is that it takes the reader somewhere else. It is different from the norm, by adding in the extra aspect of the eclipse. I appreciated the originality in He said She Said. Each chapter of the novel is accompanied by an image depicting the stages of the total eclipse of the sun. It is quite fascinating and supplemented this domestic suspense novel well. I loved the use of the eclipse as a metaphor for obscuring our viewpoint and how the truth can be distorted by an eclipse. It definitely gave me food for thought for the next time I encounter an eclipse!
He Said She said is a slow and steady paced novel. It is a slow burner and I will admit to having to invest a fair bit of energy in the earlier stages of the book before I felt completely settled. However, once I connected with the story and the characters I stayed with the story until the bitter end, devising my own theories about how it would all eventuate. The narrative is told from the first person point of view of the two leads, Laura and Kit and alternates between the years 1999 and 2015. I really liked Kelly’s 1999 storyline, perhaps as I was able to garner a connection to the main event of the eclipse. Living and working just outside London in UK at this time, I recall the day of the eclipse in 1999 with wonder.
The young couple, Kit and Laura, are very well drawn by Kelly and I got a firm sense of who they both were in the past and present day storyline. She highlights how their lives have been significantly impacted by both the day of the eclipse rape case and Kelly gives us a sense of how their lives have changed since. Kelly explores how their love for chasing eclipses across the world hasn’t waned and how their lives have been rocked by infertility. Both leads are easy to sympathise with and it is quite easy to get caught up in the web of lies surrounding this couple. I had little doubt over their version of events that occurred on the day of the eclipse in 1999, until Kelly threw in some seeds of doubt. In secondary characters Beth and Jamie, Kelly toys with our mind, offering glimmers of both truth to their stories and moments of doubt. All that is left is an astute psychological thriller to play with.
The pacing in this novel is more of a plod that an exhilarating twister style book. It does require some patience and it can be hard going, especially due to the sensitive main subject matter. However, if you are tempted to read this book I encourage you to read on as in the end you will be rewarded with an unexpected turn of events that really shook me to my core. In fact, I am certain I will not be forgetting He Said She Said for some time yet.
He Said She Said is an astute domestic based psychological thriller that offers something a little different. I liked how the author, Erin Kelly, added the spin of the eclipse to this novel, which gives He Said She Said an advantage in the populated domestic thriller genre it slots into.
He Said She Said by Erin Kelly was published on February 28th 2017 by Hachette Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of He Said She Said, Erin Kelly, visit here.