I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Safe House by Jo Jakeman
Published by Penguin on March 10, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Psychological, Suspense, Women
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She's paid the price for giving her ex a false alibi, and now she's moved to a seaside village to escape her past--but more than her lie follows her there in this chilling and twisty psychological thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Exes' Revenge.
One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She's bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she's done, she'll lose what little she has left.
Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn't believe her boyfriend was guilty--or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.
As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can't shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie's worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears.
My huge thanks to Mia Quibell-Smith for my spot on the blog tour and for my copy of the book, It’s a stunner! All thoughts are my own. Safe House examines the ramifications of loving and protecting the wrong man. Should love bend irrefutably? It makes the connection of just how far you’d be willing to go for the one you love. If you are a fan of dark humour you are going to be in for a treat. Safety doesn’t happen by accident.
Being an avid psychological Thriller fan, I get extremely excited about the premise of a new, fresh idea. I’ve read hundreds in this genre, so I can end up feeling jaded when I pick up a new one and it doesn’t take me long to decide if it’s for me. The prologue swallowed me whole and ensured I had fastened my seatbelt for the rollercoaster ride that lay ahead of me.
Jo Jakeman is a new author for me and I haven’t had the pleasure of reading her other story, Sticks and Stones. I will rectify that immediately. She is purveyor of bone chilling dread, she has created the anti- hero. A girl you feel you shouldn’t like very much due to the severe consequences her actions have led to, but her skill flicks a switch and you struggle to not like her. Not feel gut wrenching emotion for her. Not wanting her to continue suffering. As the saying goes, love is blind. There is never a truer saying than that. We want to be able to trust our own instincts. We all believe we are impeccable judges of character, we all want to see the best in people. No-one wants to accept that we are living with the monster, no dark alleyways but an evil figure lurking just behind you. They don’t just reside in your home, but they make a bed in your head…can you escape it? The eerie undertones contained within this gem of a book not only had me looking over my shoulder but checking my door was locked also. It may be more a case that I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to the thrillers I typically enjoy reading but this emitted all the emotions and fear that I need to feel in order to LOVE a book. I love that it had me gasping, questioning human emotion and making a completely relatable character. Is it really such a stretch that love would have us making misinformed choices? The human condition doesn’t just fit nice and neatly into a box, it’s stretched, it’s torn but most of all its complex.
A psychological thriller is only as strong as its main character. Charlie, or should I say Steffi Finn Loved beyond measure, she thought nothing could separate her and Lee. She loved him without question. So, when asked to provide an alibi for Lee on the night of the murder of a woman she did so. Even though he treated her appallingly. Even though he didn’t feel half of what she did for him. Even though he used and abused her. No matter what she stood by her man. Now, I know what you’re thinking, why on earth would you lie for him? She was a manipulated woman; would you want to believe that your fiancé was a murdering piece of shit. She had no reason to believe he was lying. The police were only trying to fit him up, right? WRONG!! How wrong can you be? Wrong enough to allow another murder to take place and you ending up with a ten-month prison sentence to just nail it home.
We meet Steffi as she completes her sentence. She’s navigated the harsh conditions in prison, she’s struggling with guilt. Her parents have both died whilst she was inside, friends have moved on and the community have a long memory. She has no-one. I have to admit I struggled to warm to her at this point. She was involved with the actions of her fiancé, she enabled him to kill again. I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for her. Could she turn it around? Could a fresh start help her move forward?
Oh yeah, even though she needs a fresh start, there are people that believe she doesn’t deserve it, people that would be more than happy to make her very sorry for her part to play in the murders.
The narrative in this novel was simply dynamite. It was hard hitting, with its multi POV’s, both from the past and the future. The dark humour etched within the story was also a great touch and kept me captivated from page 1 until the end. The newspaper articles gave an unreliable narrative some edge to what she was going through, it was real and raw, and I loved it. My head constantly felt as though it was on red alert. You had Steffi’s feelings and emotions, you had Ben’s (wait until you meet that twisted individual) and you had the newspapers squiffing it all up, giving you a distorted view of the events. This psychological thriller has dialled up the paranoia metre up to 100. Steffi was living her life looking over her shoulder, and boy with good reason.
I loved the way we get catapulted into Steffi’s anxious psyche. Let’s be honest, it isn’t a healthy place to be. She’s on edge, she’s paranoid, she reads small details to be significant. Surely nothing is a coincidence anymore? She’s a hard character to fully support, I mean you lived with the guy, how couldn’t you have known he was murdering scum? But the dark, cold truth is…anyone of us could be Steffi. It’s an uncomfortable realisation to make, but it’s there all the same, love is blind, but love can also be uncomfortable.
I can’t ruin the delicious twists and turns but just know that the author has lain treasure for you to uncover, how far you dig for that treasure is up to you. The author has penned a different and authentically unique take on the genre and that takes guts and a magician’s wand…luckily the author has both. The slow burn makes it all the more satisfying and just rest assured you are in good hands with Jo Jakeman who delivers a cold and heart rendering tale of deceit, love and a price to pay. Trust no-one not even yourself.
JO JAKEMAN was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition
at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years
in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. Safe House is her second
novel and Sticks and Stones was her debut thriller.
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