What I thought:
I am a big fan of Erin Kelly. A few months ago I read The Burning Air and l found absolutely fantastic with twists (two of them!) that actually had me gasping out loud (so rare this happens that it’s a joy when it does). It was for this reason that I was desperate to get my hands on her latest book, He Said / She Said. Maybe my expectations were too high this time around but it really didn’t have the same wallop that the first book did.
At the beginning of the book there is a letter from Kelly to her readers in which she explains that she is nervous about this book, not because of reviews and ratings etc. but because of the subject matter. He Said / She Said is about a suspected rape and the fallout from the night in question. This is not an easy topic to tackle and it raises as many questions as it answers. Kelly states that she went to watch several trials of this nature and that she was nearly swayed by a more polished and persuasive lawyer which raises its own questions. There were a few high profile cases that came to mind while reading this book, all of which have had massive media coverage and this was also tackled as a subject in the book: should the accused be allowed anonymity before being found innocent or guilty? I could go on and on about this because not only is it a really important subject that highlights the many issues of this sort of crime (not least the horrific ordeal the woman must go through again).
Now to the book itself. Narrated by Laura and Kit in turn, girlfriend and boyfriend who have gone to watch the Eclipse of 1999 in Cornwall and stumble across what looks like a rape. In testifying about what she saw and feeling pressured and angry by the accused (Jamie’s) Barrister, Laura tells a lie in court. This was totally believable. Who hasn’t embellished a story to add more impact? Laura didn’t pre-plan her response but it’s a lie nonetheless and one that follows her for 16 years. The book centres around a few different themes and here lies my problem. The tale of the attack and the court case could have been a great, thought-provoking book on its own but instead it takes the route of stalker and psychopath as Beth, the victim, won’t leave Laura and Kit alone. I understand that this was to be able to introduce twists and keep the reader guessing but for me it didn’t quite work and I really felt that the main story would have been enough on its own.
I found this a compelling and page-turning read but also a pretty uncomfortable one. The question around did Laura really see what she thought she saw was a great plot device but I never warmed to any of the characters in the book. Maybe that was intentional – not portraying Beth as the “victim” but someone who is pretty feisty and not always likable. I am curious to find out what others think about this book however so please do comment if you’ve read it.
He Said / She Said is out in the UK on 20th April and I received a copy through Amazon Vine in return for my honest review.