So yes – the clearing down of my toppling TBR continues with this review of Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler. I have had this on the list since 2017 and it is another book to benefit from my new habit of the pre-work walk. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table. The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books | Hive
The choice he forces her to make is utterly unspeakable.
But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.
And then she meets the next victim.
So compulsive you can’t stop reading.
So chilling you won’t stop talking about it.
Don’t Wake Up is a dark, gripping psychological thriller with a horrifying premise and a stinging twist . .
Well I will admit that the opening to this book caught me somewhat unawares. It is dark, twisted, and skin-pricklingly tense and makes you sit up and take note. The protagonist, Alex, waking to find herself strapped to a table, naked and being threatened by someone who is dressed as a surgeon. And that is possibly one of the least disturbing parts of this whole scene. And yet as it plays out it is very clear that there is far more to Alex’s plight than meets the eye, a kind of back story which we can guess at but which takes a while into the story to get to the full truth of.
Alex is being targeted, but in such a unique, clever and disturbing way that it undermines her credibility as not only a victim, but as a doctor, something that she only adds to in the way she manages her post-traumatic stress. With alcohol. But then when nobody you talk to believes you, what else are you to do. I’ll be honest, Alex was a very difficult character to warm to. She is clearly a victim and I had no doubts that, as incredulous as her tale was, that what happens to her in the first scene of the book, genuinely happens. But there was just something about her, her personality, perhaps too arrogant, that made it hard to feel wholly sympathetic towards her, and easy to understand why her colleagues didn’t fully trust her. That said, Liz Lawler has done a brilliant job as in spite of not entirely liking Alex, I wanted to see the whole thing play out, Needed to know who was toying with her and why, and there are actually several suspects in the small cast of characters, any one of whom could be taking glee in seeing her world fall apart.
There is a growing sense of unease and dread that builds throughout the book. A feeling that at any time something bad is going to happen again, and it does in fact, several times, much of which is designed to undermine Alex further, especially in the eyes of the police. Well, one of them at least. Oh my life, if there is one thing that really got my dander up when listening to this book it was bloody Detective Constable Laura Best. If there was a worse advocate for the #MeToo movement, women’s rights and providing a safe space and understanding ear for women who report sexual abuse then I think you would be hard pressed to find them. Ambitious, cunning and ultimately jealous, she really made me angry. So many times she turned a blind eye to the obvious in a bid to find evidence against Alex – gah. She winds me up even now just thinking about her. She was a horrid person, perhaps even the the reason I was so keen to see what happened in the end and to see Alex get some kind of justice. She is countered, thank the lord, by her senior officer, DI Greg Turner. He was far more measured, more willing to listen and see the bigger picture and a much nicer character to boot. Far from perfect, but more human and likeable. Without him on Alex’s side, I think there would have just been one antagonist too many in this book to be bearable.
This is a book that has peaks and troughs in terms of the tension, moments that will make you angry and make your skin crawl. I’ll be completely honest and say that I kind of figured out the why of the story by the half way point, and if you know anything about the Christian religion, or even your Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, there is quite an obvious hint dropped in the middle of the book that helped me twig the who as well. But it was intriguing to see how it would all play out, how far the ‘Surgeon’ was willing to take things in order to finally defeat Alex. And the ending will get the pulse racing because by this point I found myself completely on Alex’s side and the heightened sense of jeopardy actually had me walking faster in time with the increased pacing in the book.
A tense hospital based thriller, enhanced by the author’s understanding of the medical system and with characters who you will love to hate, and will compel you to read onwards, if only to see if they will finally get their just desserts. Very glad I’ve finally found the time to ‘read’ this book.
About the Author
Liz Lawler had a 20-year career as a nurse before becoming a general manager of a five star hotel. She found it an easy transition as she used the same greeting to both patient and hotel guest ‘Good morning. did you sleep well?’ she loves books and all things bookish!
Author Links: Twitter