Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the tour for The Old You by Louise Voss on its paperback publication day. Happy publication day Louise. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to publishers Orenda Books for providing an advance copy for review. I was very lucky to hear Louise Voss read from the book at the Orenda Roadshow earlier in the year so I have been anticipating the book for some time. Let’s see what it’s all about shall we?
About the Book
Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller
Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…
Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?
Now I won’t deny it, I have been struggling a little bit of late to find my mojo when it comes to reading psychological thrillers and domestic noir. I have read many titles, all of which have been technically excellent and very good stories, but none have quite hit that spot. You know the one? The book that just feels right, perhaps catches you unaware and leaves you wanting more. Perhaps I have read too many, crime and thrillers being my go to genre. Perhaps I am just tired. But … I am happy to report that in The Old You I am happy to report that I found just that book. I can’t even really tell you what or why, but something in this book just clicked for me and I was enraptured from first page to last.
This book has a very clever premise – Lynn Naismith is forced to face up to the fact that her beloved husband, Ed, has the same debilitating and aggressive form of dementia which claimed the life of his father. It is just as Ed receives his diagnosis that we join the pair, and from here things quickly progress and escalate. Ed is very rapidly succumbing to the disease, this words getting lost and muddled, his actions erratic and sometimes violent. Lynn is struggling to cope when the unthinkable happens. Ed vanishes. And this is when the skeletons start to emerge from the closets and where things start to take a dark turn. And lord knows I like dark.
Now I have to admit that a part of me was expecting this to be another standard family drama, perhaps a little poignant as Lynn struggled with Ed’s condition, perhaps a few trips down memory lane as Louise Voss demonstrated the pain and anguish that comes from dealing with a person who, once vibrant, now can’t even manage the simplest of tasks. Well … you certainly do get a glimpse into the world of a family coping with dementia and, while I do not have a wealth of experience or knowledge if this illness, it certainly felt authentic. I really empathized with Lynn, trying so hard to protect and help her husband but living in constant fear of anger or violence. It made your heart break and your skin crawl in equal measure.
But then you have those secrets, long buried although quick to resurface. So very cleverly woven into the story and almost shocking in their revelation. The story is told in two parts almost, completely interwoven, but all in Lynn’s voice. First we have the present day where she is coping with a new job and an entirely new life. Then we have passages from Lynn’s past, ones which shed a whole new light on her marriage and how things came to pass. I’ll say no more on that other than I really liked this angle and this approach. It led to some really tense moments, particularly at the end of the book, and a highly dramatic showdown.
Louise Voss has created some superb characters here, ones you could both love and loathe. I felt sympathy for Lynn, even if, at times, I wanted to shake her and make her see what was so obviously going on. She had an inner strength but also a kind of vulnerability which made her endearing and made you root for her. But when you sat hell hath no fury, you may well be thinking of her as while she may come across as mild mannered and under Ed’s thumb, she has hidden depths and is one smart lady. I liked her. Her friends are a mixture of high maintenance and high supporting and you always find yourself second guessing their motives. Outside of Lynn herself, who even gave cause for second thoughts at certain stages, there really was only a handful of characters I actually trusted in the whole book. And yet, if not likeable, they were all believable.
This is the first time I have read a book by Louise Voss but I know I will be back again. This is such a wondrous blend of poignant reflection, dark rooted secrets and cunning deception with a dark heart and a tense and twisted heart thumping conclusion – what is not to love? Top banana as I often say.
I think I might even give it one of these … just saying.
The Old You is available now from the following retailers:
About the author
Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had eleven novels published – five solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards : a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books.
Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at www.thewritingcoach.co.uk.
She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crime-writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.
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