Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Two Wrongs, the latest novel from Mel McGrath. I’ve really enjoyed some of the author’s previous titles so was eager to see what she was offering us this time around. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
One girl jumped.
And then another followed…
In the city of Bristol, young women are dying in mysterious circumstances. The deaths look like suicides – but are they something more sinister?
Honor is terrified that her daughter might be next. But as she looks for clues as to what really happened to the girls, she stumbles upon a link to dark secret in her own past – one that she’s kept from her daughter.
Now Honor has the chance to avenge her child for the terrible events of years ago. But how far will she go to protect her daughter and right the wrongs done to her family?
Dark, clever and thought-provoking, TWO WRONGS is the breathless new thriller from bestselling author Mel McGrath – perfect for fans of Erin Kelly, Ruth Ware and Sarah Vaughan.
Although this is billed as a thriller, I think that the description doesn’t really begin to cover the complexities of this book, a story that, whilst fiction, could easily have been ripped from the headlines. This is a story which explores a very difficult subject, but in a sensitive way, one which not only draws out the drama of the narrative but also the emotion. It is about the abuse of power, but it is also about the strength of love that can be felt between a mother and daughter, even if the bond is not there by blood.
The story is told predominantly from three perspectives, those of Nevis, a University student, Honor, her adoptive mother, and Cullen, a professor at the University. Nevis receives a call from a stranger in the middle of the night urging her to get to the Clifton Suspension Bridge as quickly as possible as her friend and housemate, Satnam is ready to commit suicide. This in itself is shocking enough for Nevis, a young woman who has always struggled to fully understand the emotions of others, but she is not remotely prepared for the truths she will uncover as she tries to find out what drive her friend to such a drastic act.
There are many angles to this story, some of which I don’t really want to go into directly due to the fact that they may act as spoilers. The book examines the pressure upon the young students that Nevis knows and that come into her circle following Satnam’s suicide attempt, the complexities of their relationships and the nature of those who would seek to take advantage of their desperation to be the best they can. To not be seen as failing. It is an all too familiar tale, one which makes the skin crawl, even as the lines are blurred between who was, and wasn’t a fully willing participant in what came to pass. There is a great deal of conflict in the novel as we are made to examine not only the lengths some students may be willing to go to succeed, but also the lengths that others will go to in order to ensure that their actions remain undiscovered. And there is a long and complex history for some of the characters, one which is slowly drop few to readers throughout the story, increasing the tension and the suspense, one which made me feel compelled to keep reading, if only to discover if what I thought was happening actually was the truth.
Mel McGrath has created a very complex but intriguing character in Nevis. The more I learned about her, the more I wanted to see her succeed. It is clear that she doesn’t have the same kind of awareness as most of the other students, her practical naivete keeping from her that which is glaringly obvious to the reader. And yet it feels very authentic with Nevix making up in smarts what she clearly lacks in her awareness of those around her. Hers is a complex psychological condition but although she cannot always gauge the mood of those around her, she feels quite intensely, something that is obvious from her relationship with her adoptive mother Honor. Now here are two characters who could not be more different and yet they compliment each other perfectly, Honor’s love for Nevis and determination to protect her screaming from the page. Although hers may be a simple life, and she is a seemingly disorganised and slightly bohemian character, she carries a lot of emotional scars and I felt such a connection to both her and Nevis as characters that they really drew me into the story.
As for Cullen … well he is a difficult character to like. It is hard at first to decide if he is a man trapped in a loveless marriage and acting as the keeper of the blind eye when it comes to his career or something far, far worse. I never warmed to him as a character, his sense of self preservation overtaking the needs of his students being just one of many things that made my skin crawl. Whether my judgement of him was warranted you will have to read to find out, but he certainly has echoes of the kinds of unscrupulous character you may well have read about.
There is such a sense of authenticity to this story, the simplicity of what occurs almost the most horrifying thing of all. There are no needs for major shocks or plot twists, although some of the things which occur will leave you reeling. It is a far more thoughtful piece than that, one which will draw you in and keep you hooked regardless. It is a slower paced read, not quite what I would class as a psychological thriller, although its style is often bordering on the shadows of that genre. There is a sense of urgency towards the end, the story building to a climax which. has been some twenty years in the making and is more powerful for it, but it is the poignancy of the story, the understated and yet impactful ending, which has left a lasting impression on me in this often moving read.
About the Author
Melanie McGrath is the author of the highly acclaimed ‘Motel Nirvana’, which won the 1996 John Llewellyn Rhys ‘Mail on Sunday’ prize for the best new British writer under 35, and the bestselling ‘Silvertown’. ‘Hopping’ is her fifth book. She lives and works in London.