Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gilliam McAllister. My thanks to publisher Penguin for the early copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
It’s every parent’s nightmare.
Your happy, funny, innocent son commits a terrible crime: murdering a complete stranger.
You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your teenage boy is in custody and his future lost.
That night you fall asleep in despair. Until you wake . . .
. . . and it is yesterday.
Every morning you wake up a day earlier, another day before the murder. Another chance to stop it.
Somewhere in the past lie the answers, and you don’t have a choice but to find them . . .
I have only really read the last three or four books by Gillian McAllister, but I can easily say that of those I have read, this is definitely my favourite. Very clever, full of unexpected turns and packed with enough mystery to hold my attention through the very complicated timeline, this is a very unique story which sees our protagonist, Jen, go to any length to protect her son, a son she has just witnessed commit murder. Only that was yesterday. Or rather, it was tomorrow. Because, after a broken night’s sleep, Jen wakes up the day before the murder. She knows what is going to happen, what everyone is going to say. The world’s strangest case of deja vu. Only this is no groundhog day moment. It is far more complex than that.
This is the most unexpected of tales. A kind of Quantum Leap for the new millenium (for those old enough to remember it), only instead of Sam Beckett leaping back in time to a key moment that precedes some disastrous event and moving forward in time in a bid to change future history, Jen’s journey is led entirely in reverse, each sleep seeing her take an increasingly large leap back in time. It’s a journey she has to take solo, made to relive each day from the past to try and determine its relevance to the future. It means that we are always limited to Jen’s point of view, but her discoveries become our discoveries, and together we can piece together the puzzle that may help Jen prevent the tragedy every occuring.
It’s a brave move by the author, but one which works surprisingly well and keeps the question of the what why and wherefores of the story very much alive. Whilst time leaps are minimal in the early part of the book, the closer we, or rather Jen, gets to the truth or the precursory event, the large the leaps become. And yet with each move back in history, Gillian McAllister manages to keep a sense of authenticity, adapting our and Jen’s surroundings to match the era. The ever growing and shrinking mobile phones, the changing cars. Even the dramatic shifts in fashion, all captured perfectly, only in reverse gear.
As well as Jen’s narrative journey back in time, there are alternative chapters told from another point of view that serve to inform the story. We don’;t know initially how or why they are important, how they will eventually intersect, but the more we learn of Jen and her families past, and the more we learn of rookie Cop Ryan’s present, the clearer everything becomes. It sent my mind whirring in all different directions, trying to guess and second guess the relevance, the ultimate truth remaining well concealed until just the right moment in time.
I am always looking for something away from the norm in crime fiction, away from the sometimes formulaic tropes of psychological thrillers and Gillian McAllister has delivered that with aplomb. She has captured the real turmoil of Jen as a mother who only wants to protect her child, the intensity of her relationship with her husband Kelly, but also the growing mistrust the more she learns of the past. A kind of awakening as she travels through her past with eyes wide open, rather than being consumed by her career. It’s the antithesis of the ‘Dr Who’ theory – never meet your past self and don’t change history – as Jen is her past self, and her current self, a confusing set of circumstances in the wrong hands, but one which makes perfect sense here.
Original, engrossing and full of uncertainty, I was completely drawn into this story. It’s one to savour and to pay attention to so that you don’t miss the clues, but even when you think you have a handle on the story, has the capacity to surprise. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Gillian McAllister has been writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated with an English degree before working as a lawyer. She lives in Birmingham, where she now writes full-time. She is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Everything But the Truth, Anything You Do Say, No Further Questions, The Evidence Against You,How To Disappear andthe Richard & Judy Book Club pick That Night. She is also the creator and co-host of the popular Honest Authors podcast.