3 / 5 Stars
A gripping, pacy story - but with a completely unbelievable central premise.
(Please note - this review has major spoilers - don't read on if you don't want to know what happens!)
I really wanted to love this book. It started off with a cracking set-up - a man lying about the exact nature of his partner's disappearance, and then the gradual revealing of what actually happened and why. Throughout, it was told in a very deft, pacy style (which kept me reading on), but I had so many issues with the plot twist that it ruined it a bit for me.
Finn is a giant of a man with a good heart, but a bit of a dodgy past. He meets Layla, a gorgeous red-head from Scotland, and falls head over heels in love with her. However, one bad decision from her turns their entire relationship on its head, and sends him on a path of despair and depression as he tries to find her again.
He ends up shacking up with her sister, Ellen (slightly weird, I know) and all is going well until the Russian dolls start arriving. Turns out they've got special significance for Ellen, and it means that Layla must be around somewhere, playing games with them both.
So far, so gripping, right? Well, this is about when things get a bit silly. We're fed a few red herrings throughout the story (i.e. it might be Ruby the spurned barmaid or Harry, the friend that Finn randomly beat up one day), but none of them are very convincing. Instead, we discover that Ellen actually IS Layla, only somehow, miraculously, she's managed to look totally different by just shedding a few pounds, dying her hair and having her freckles lasered off.
I mean... really?!
It was such a shame, as it was a good read otherwise - but for me, when I find myself shaking my head with disbelief over an improbable plot-twist, it's never a good sign. However, if you like your thrillers to be VERY over the top, then this may be a good option for you. Just to say as well, this would not stop me from reading the author's other stuff, as she can clearly write a gripping yarn. I'd just be hopeful for a less crazy plot next time.