Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for The Last To Know, the brand new thriller from Jo Furniss. This novel is set in my home county in a place which, although fictional, is inspired by a location very close to my home so, when invited by the author to read it, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for including me in the tour. Here’s what the book is all about.
About the Book
A family’s past pursues them like a shadow in this riveting and emotional novel of psychological suspense by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of All the Little Children.Available from: Amazon | Hive | Waterstones
American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, and the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore and present dangers.
Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House twenty years ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past.
When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades.
As Ellie works to separate rumor from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?
I do love a book that is rich in mystery and atmosphere, and it is safe to say that The Last To Know by Jo Furniss delivered both of these things with aplomb, as well as a rich cast of characters, and a charming and yet almost claustrophobic rural setting which was instantly recognisable to me as a born and bred ‘local’.
This is the story of Rose Kynaston, a former journalist who has stepped away from her former career to move with her family to her husband’s former home in Shropshire. Although it is clear from the off that she is more used to the rush that her career as an international correspondent has provided, and that she has tried to prepare herself for the change in both [ace and setting, nothing can have prepared her for what she is to find at Hurtwood House and the village from which the sprawling old property takes its name. It seem like everyone is keeping secrets from her and that there are parts of her husband, Dylan’s, past that he has not been entirely honest with her about. But like all good psychological thrillers, those secrets cannot stay buried for long and the arrival of their family in the village, that and the desperation of a local TV producer to film on the mansion’s grounds, lead to the slow unravelling of a dark truth that will change everything.
I love the way in which the author has slowly built both the atmosphere and the tension throughout the book. From the off, with the clear description of the drive up to the property, the twisting country lanes, the dense atmosphere of a dark and dreary night, all build that feeling of unease, none of which is softened by the arrival at Hurtwood House. Although the location itself is fictional, I know the area and the properties that the whole story is based upon and the author has captured these and the whole essence of the area perfectly. Although I’d like to think that they outlook of the residents of the all too real towns around my own aren’t quite as closeted and judgmental, I do recognise that feeling of everyone knowing each other’s business, the sense of indignation ad the perceived wrongs of another that can accompany that small town vibe. It feels real, completely authentic. There is no doubting either the inspiration behind the boy’s school which sits within the novel, the one where Dylan was educated and where much of the history of the novel comes to pass. The behaviour, the arrogance, the bravado, of the borders and the day schoolers … Let’s just say I’ve seen that in action and it is lovingly (?) recreated here with added subterfuge and ill intention.
Jo Furniss has created some brilliant characters in this novel. We have Rose, whose perspective makes up a vast share of the novel, and whose personality and history are a stark contrast to the very English setting and upbringing of her new family. She is likeable, although at times seems to doubt herself for reasons which slowly become clear throughout the novel. Then there is her mother in law, Gwendoline. She is the quintessential lady of the manor, although the manor, much like her own personality, is slowly eroding, as though the house is working through its own slow journey towards confusion and dementia. And to round of the trio of strong female characters who dominate this story, we have Ellie Trevelyan, the local Police Officer who is counting down the days to her somewhat earlier than planned retirement and whose point of view takes readers through the rest of the story. She is a tough character, not ready to step away from her career just yet, determined to leave with a bang rather than a whimper and yet resigned to her fate, as the local station is to be closed and changed to local neighbourhood teams managed from the Police HQ. I really like her, admired her spirit, and loved the way in which the author wove her lifelong knowledge and understanding of the area into both the story as a whole and the investigation that ensues.
This is a slow building novel, one in which clues are drip fed to the reader and in which the mystery builds, layer upon layer, until you finally come to the dramatic and tragic truth towards the final pages of the novel. We start the book as the novel ends, in a dramatic race to save the life of Rose and her family. I loved the atmospheric tone of the novel which continues to haunt and build throughout, that almost gothic sense of the old mansion which sits in contrast the the modernisation of both homes and the village, around it. There is that sense of a place suspended in the past being slowly forced into the present, a clash that is both hypnotic and, for Gwendoline at lease, devastating. Many uncomfortable truths are confronted in this story which is ultimately very satisfying to read.
About the Author
After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.
As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.
Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.
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