Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Reunion by Samantha Hayes. My thanks to Kim Nash of Bookouture for inviting me to be a part of the tour. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book in just a moment after we’ve taken a look at what the book was all about.
The Official Book Blurb
They were all there the day your sister went missing.
Who is lying? Who is next?
THEN – In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom.
Eleanor never came back.
NOW – The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.
When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…
Okay. I have to get this out of the way. The family in this story (at least by the central character’s maiden name) are the Lucas family. I have no affiliation with or knowledge of the author and this has come as much as a surprise to me as other readers. Especially as she has an Aunt Jenny. Threw me for a while I must admit. Right with that out of the way, on to the book.
This is a very cleverly plotted thriller, layered with tension which spans a couple of decades. When our central character Claire is with her friends down at the beach, it goes against everything that she has ever promised her parents to allow her younger sister Lenni go and buy an ice cream on her own. And yet something makes her give in to Lenni, perhaps the lure of her friends in the sea. As she watches her sister head off across the beach, she has no way of knowing this will be the last time any of them sees her. Riddled with guilt, Lenni’s disappearance derails all of Claire;s plans for university and changes the course of her whole life.
Cut forward twenty years and with her father ill with the onset of Alzheimer’s, Claire decides to organise one last party, a reunion of the close friends and family who made up her world in the days before Lenni disappeared, her plan to bring some happy memories back to her father’s deteriorating mind. She has no idea of the chain of events that she is about to set in motion by bringing them all back to her childhood home, or the revelations which are set to rock the foundation of her world.
Now this is not your in your face kind of thriller. There is a very slow and gradual build of tension, an understandable air of sadness which affects Claire and her family which permeates the narrative. But there are also those little tells, the small happenings which start to set the hairs rising on your arms. The silent phone calls, the mystery message full of menace left of Claire’s answer phone and a symbol etched into the dirt on the rear of her car. No outright threats, but enough to know that someone of something is bringing the past back to haunt the future. When something happens which threatens the happiness of the friends you can feel that dread building, the wonder if history could be repeating itself, especially as readers have a certain amount of information which, while not certainty, add an element of suspicion to events.
The structure of the story is very good, taking the reader back between current events and passages which are clearly from the past, but how far into the past it is hard to tell. It does tell the reader more about what happened to Lenni, but not the who or why, and that bit of additional knowledge makes it difficult to tell fact from fiction when it comes to the present day. it is clear that many of them are nursing secrets, any of them could be made suspects in the disappearance of Lenni and even Rain, the teenage daughter of Maggie, Claire’s best friend from childhood. But as for who stands to gain from either disappearance and why. Well, those particular revelations do not come until near the end and are as shocking as they are unexpected. Whilst I perhaps had the merest inkling of one element, subtle clues dropped throughout the book, I was not expecting the second revelation. The lengths some people will go to to cover a lie. Makes the skin crawl.
Nothing in the book is gratuitous or graphic and the tension is more like the slow tightening of a belt around your waist than a fast punch to your gut and yet something in this book just works. The quality of the story, the writing, the way in which the characters were built, just worked for me. I didn’t like them all, certainly one or two I’d have liked to give a good punch to the gut to myself. I perhaps would have liked to have seen more made of Maggie after her daughter disappeared but the story was centered firmly around Claire. As you read through, you’ll understand why. Maybe more could have been made of the threatening and silent calls, to kick the tension up a notch. But quite honestly, from page one, despite this the book had me racing through, the action and the mystery driving me on to find out what had really happened. To see if there was any possible way this could ever result in a happy ending.
A really effective slow building psychological thriller which will absolutely please fans of the genre.
My thanks to publishers Bookouture who provided an advance copy of The Reunion for review. It is available now from the followig retailers:
About the Author
Samantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.
When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.
Make sure to check out some of the other brilliant blogs taking part in the tour.