Witnessing a murder is only the beginning. The hard part is testifying against a man you thought that you loved.
Ten years ago, Rebecca gave testimony against her abusive and controlling boyfriend Solomon in the murder of a colleague. She knows that he will never forgive her betrayal but she has used the time well, running from her former life and setting up home in a small village in Wales. With a new husband and a beautiful daughter, everything is perfect and finally Rebecca has learned to relax.
Until she finds a strange mobile phone in her home upon which she has received a simple and yet chilling message. Directing her to a website, Rebecca has only sixty seconds in which to decide the fate of one of her friends and neighbours. Choosing them is setting them up to be the victim of progressively worsening crimes and yet in each case she has the opportunity to select an alternative victim. Staying silent is not an option. She is given a time and place and forced to watch the atrocities take place. To act as a silent witness. The threat is clear. If she tries to intervene or speaks to the police, she will die.
She knows this is Solomon’s work, knows that she should speak out, ask for help but she also knows why Solomon is so certain that she can’t. He has entered her home. He knows her every move. He has proven he can get to her. And as the intended victims become even closer to home, Rebecca has to make a choice. Play Solomon’s game or find a way to stop him. Either way, she is forced to confront a past she felt certain she had left behind, a past which could ruin everything she has built up.
‘Witness’ is the new stand alone thriller from Caroline Mitchell, published under the Thomas & Mercer brand. A real step away from the police procedurals for which she is known, from the very beginning you get a real sense of the urgency and pace of the story. The story opens up in the immediate aftermath of the murder, a moment in time where Rebecca makes a decision which will forever change her future. From here on in, the sense of foreboding builds and builds and from the very moment we meet Solomon, you know that this is a man who will not stop until he has exacted his revenge against those he feels have done him wrong. This is a story which catches hold of you and refuses to let go. It forces you to watch, to bear witness, just as Rebecca does, and leaves you too engrossed to ever think about looking away. It’s brilliant.
Rebecca is a character who it is very easy to like. She has been readily accepted into her community, is fiercely loyal to her family and ultimately seems to be a very kind person. As you read through the book, you get a real feeling of her as a person, from the young woman lost in the grief of losing her mother, to the more confident person we see as she strives to stay one step ahead of Solomon. A lot of the story is given to describing her relationship with him, how he came to look after her when her mother first dies, but how that once loving relationship began to turn sour and be dominated by a wholly manipulative character. But it is easy to underestimate her strength of character, something she really needed in order to be able to escape from such an abusive relationship. That said, there was always that underlying doubt there. Something about Rebecca which made me question her character, if only her willingness to allow Solomon to just exact his revenge against her friends and family. What kind of person would just sit back like that?
Part of the answer to that question lies in Caroline Mitchell’s chilling portrayal of Solomon. He is a master manipulator, a bully. An abusive man who knows nothing other than getting his own way. It does not become clear until very late in the book the true extent of his controlling nature and his pattern of abuse against Rebecca, but from the clinical way in which he approaches his revenge, the clear sociopathic tendencies he displays, he is a man designed to make your skin crawl. And that he does. Mitchell has written him so perfectly that you are bound to feel a shiver down your spine every time you venture inside his sick and twisted mind.
The tension is almost palpable, the threat constant. From each ominous buzz of the mobile phone, I was poised and waiting, wondering what the next crime would be and who the intended victim? Could Rebecca really allow innocents to take her punishment? Would she be so callous as to deliberately direct Solomon to another, seemingly random person, someone for whom she had no real feelings? Well … you’ll have to read to find out, but some of the attacks are truly shocking and the story raced on at a such a pace to a final dramatic showdown between Solomon and Rebecca. Caroline Mitchell skilfully created such a tense feeling of jeopardy for Rebecca, but right up until the final confrontation, I still wasn’t sure quite what I expected, or even wanted, to happen. Yes, Rebecca has been under undue pressure, acting under duress, but still. No one is entirely blameless. And yes. The ending may well leave you reeling.
A brilliantly tense psychological thriller with a truly sick and twisted antagonist. I loved it. If this is a just the first taste of Ms Mitchell’s darker writing mind, I say turn out the lights and let’s mosey on over to the dark side.
A twisted, shockingly evil, and manipulative 5 stars from me.
I reviewed an advance copy of ‘Witness’ provided by NetGalley and publishers Thomas & Mercer.
‘Witness‘ is available from 20th December and can be purchased here.
About the Author
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A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. She now writes full time.
Published by Bookouture, her DC Knight crime thriller series reached the number one position in the Amazon crime charts. Love You To Death, the first in her new series featuring DS Ruby Preston was published on 11th November 2016.
To purchase any of her previous books please select the images below (UK) or by selecting the title (US). My review for ‘Love You To Death‘ can be found here; ‘Don’t Turn Around’ – here; and ‘The Silent Twin’ – here.