A phenomenal novel which is both intelligent, articulate & well-researched and analyses the consequences of a snap decision.
Recensito nel Regno Unito 🇬🇧 il 11 febbraio 2018
In her second sensational novel, Anything You Do Say, Gillian McAllister has cemented his status amongst the top tier of bestselling authors with her intelligent and thought-provoking brand of crime fiction which is both articulate and well-researched. Launching into a moral quagmire of potentially seismic consequences from the off, McAllister wastes no time in presenting a dilemma fraught with implications and caveats.
What begins with a Friday night out with best-friend Laura and an innocuous selfie taken by a male admirer ends for Joanna Olivia when his unwanted advances take on a more physical form and border on harassment. Calling time on their evening out and going their separate ways, when Jo hears the rapidly gaining footsteps behind her the very natural response is to think that her pursuer is the overbearing man from the bar and with no mobile signal and a dearth of passers-by she takes the split second decision to get her defence in first. As her pursuer falls head first down a set of concrete steps the impact leaves him lying face down and motionless. As Joanna’s world realigns she is forced to make a snap decision and what she decides to do has the power to decide her future. In one scenario, the chapters entitled ‘Reveal’, Joanna makes the decision to be honest, call 999 and follow the correct path.. in a second, entitled ‘Conceal’ she chooses to turn her back, stay silent and continue with her life. In a monumental achievement, McAllister follows both of these paths through to their conclusions and delivers a well-rounded analysis of Joanna’s possible futures. Without wishing to detract from the shocks in store as a profusion of unintended consequences arise, readers can rely on the author for hard-hitting honesty in both accounts. More impressive it that in each scenario she takes time to consider the possible validation of self-defence, the intent of Joanna and the likely medical and legal factors through to the judgmental attitudes of society.
Lead protagonist Jo, and her husband of seven-years are both well-fleshed out, making their responses and decisions feel authentic and McAllister takes time to show how Joanna’s formative years have in turn shaped her subsequent actions. Both narratives are all the more convincing given the author uses this profile of Joanna to extrapolate her likely responses, making them feel understandable and natural. With an avoidant personality and reliant on others for validating her self-worth, Joanna naturally lacks confidence and has a highly over-active imagination. Married to liberal thirty-two-year-old and refugee charity working spouse, Reuben, with his sanctimonious righteousness often bordering on anal, Joanna is despatched in a world fraught with the implications and possible hidden meanings behind his body language and unspoken words. When these aspects are factored into all of Jo’s other relationships with her family, working colleagues and even customers, her mind goes into overdrive as she infers and presumes their likely reactions to her decisions. A snapshot into Joanna’s world, even as a reader, is exhausting and in both scenarios it is no wonder that she finds herself in a constant state of angst.
Gripping and compulsively readable, as the alternative stories take shape with far-reaching effects and shattering repercussions for Joanna’s life the definitive line separating right from wrong becomes less distinct as the pages fly past. Manna from heaven for book club discussions, this plausible and sympathetic account of the fork in the road turning point and the subsequent unwieldy what and if paths they might take proves both emotive and contentious. In both the ‘Reveal’ and ‘Conceal’ unfolding narratives there are shocks aplenty with a dispassionately honest assessment of issues such a racism and a woman’s right to walk the streets without feeling intimidated or ‘fair game’ for the lascivious attention of passing men. As the media and Internet mouthpieces hijack the incident to validate their own arguments, Jo’s split second decision starts to become inescapable. Compelling throughout, both narratives bristle with palpable tension, with the ‘Conceal’ timeline making evident Joanna’s guilt, self-flagellation, procrastination and ensuing paranoia which comes to characterise her life. As mitigating factors and issues such as previous good character and what constitutes reasonable force come to take on greater significance in Joanna’s world she is thoroughly unprepared for what transpires.
McAllister takes her complex and realistic flawed characters through every gut-wrenching moment of each scenario with fastidious attention to detail, imbuing both the ‘Conceal’ and ‘Reveal’ storylines with readily conceivable consequences. To follow both stories through to possible conclusion and remain on-point throughout is impressive and with the medical, legal, moral and emotional aspects of each observed with exactitude and veracity, McAllister has written a cracking novel. Not only does the author analyse the implications for Joanna and her relationship with highly-principled husband, Reuben, but the changes that emanate from Joanna’s predicament in hippy best-friend, Laura, and her successful and remote brother, Wilf. Gillian McAllister is an author who inspires confidence and her uncanny knack for getting to grips with her characters throws up the prospect of a very difficult set of characters and an entirely different set of possible dilemmas. Interesting, Anything You Do Say makes apparent that even amongst those we are closest to and choose to place our trust in, the implications of a snap decision have the power to change everything. A fascinating and well-rounded examination of making a life-changing instantaneous decision and living with the aftermath.
Prior to reading Anything You Do Say I had thought I was pretty informed about the intricacies of the Criminal Justice System, yet in the course of this astounding four-hundred page novel I found reason to question and analyse everything I have previously taken for granted. The result is a well-informed novel with practicable life-lessons that are readily applicable and relevant to all our daily lives. It is unlikely that a brief review will do justice to such a standout novel and kudos to Gillian McAllister for eschewing the current trend in popular fiction for air-headed females making a host of nonsensical decisions.
Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
Una persona l'ha trovato utile