Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Back Road: Rachel Abbott

The Back Road

by Rachel Abbott


Having just read The Back Road in two sittings, I can understand why Rachel Abbott’s first novel, Only the Innocent, reached the Amazon no.1 slot and stayed there.  The Back Road will probably do the same.  Not only is it tightly plotted, with intricate twists and turns, the writing is also of the highest standard.

The novel opens with a punch in the gut and goes on to tantalise.  Leo and her sister Ellie have some seriously bad family history, but both girls have made good - Leo is a successful Life Coach and Ellie has an apparently perfect marriage and affluent life-style.  Ellie has just moved into their childhood home - which she has inherited - and is having a dinner party to celebrate its renovation.  Leo has come, reluctantly, and is courageously trying to face her demons.

The pace slows, momentarily, for us to meet the dinner guests - a mixture of childhood friends and their partners and a new, very attractive, policeman who has recently moved into the village.  The celebrations are overshadowed by a terrible accident that had occurred the previous evening - when a young girl had been knocked down on the back road and left for dead.  Ellie is nursing the girl in the hospital intensive care unit and the prognosis isn’t good.

It soon emerges that several of the guests were not where they should have been when the accident took place (including Ellie) and several couples are hiding secrets from each other - secrets that will put their lives in danger, because (in true Agatha Christie style) one of the guests at the table is a killer.

It’s a very complex plot, which owes as much to Ruth Rendell’s psychological thriller genre as it does to Christie’s plotting, and although I worked out who the likely killer was, a few pages from the end, it only racked up the tension and the climax was completely unexpected.  Past and present collide head on in the final pages. This novel is a very original mix of traditional crime/thriller elements that really, really, works.

Thanks Rachel - you had me hooked, and, for a puzzle addict, you gave me lots to think about!
Rachel has also, generously, given me a detailed interview talking about her writing generally and The Back Road specifically.  To read what she has to say, click here. 

The Back Road
Only the Innocent
Rachel Abbott's Blog

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