He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

The Blurb On The Back:

He said it was consensual. The woman said nothing. But Laura saw it … didn’t she?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura and Kit interrupt something awful.

Laura is sure about what happened. Later, in a panic, she tells a little white lie – and four lives are changed irreparably.

When the victim turns up on their doorstep, her gratitude spills into dangerous obsession. Laura and Kit decide to run – but Beth knows they have pledged to see every eclipse together. They will never be able to entirely escape her.

As the next eclipse draws near, Laura must confront the fallout from what she saw in the darkness. Confessing will cost her marriage; keeping the secret might prove fatal.

But all secrets, sooner or later, will come to light. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

August 1999. Laura Langrishe and her boyfriend Kit McCall are in Cornwall for a music festival timed to coincide with a solar eclipse when Laura stumbles on what she believes to be the rape of Beth Taylor by Jamie Balcombe, although Jamie claims that the sex was consensual. Called as a witness at Balcombe’s trial, Laura is indignant that his defence rests on attacking Beth’s character and behaviour and tells a small lie to help secure a conviction. After the trial, she and Beth form a friendship but it’s not long before both she and Kit become concerned by Beth’s behaviour, which quickly develops into a dangerous obsession.

March 2015. Now married, Laura and Kit live under assumed names in Harringay and, haunted by that 1999 event and what happened afterwards, have done everything they can to make themselves invisible on-line. But Kit is a dedicated eclipse chaser who’s arranged to see the next one in the Faroe Islands, leaving Laura (now pregnant with twins) at home alone. Laura never told him about her lie, terrified that it will destroy their relationship, but no secret can remain hidden forever and the consequences of discovery could very well be fatal …

Erin Kelly wrote this psychological thriller to show how the criminal justice system fails sex crime victims but while there are some clever ideas and an interesting twist, the story is skewed in one direction and the 2015 sections (particularly the Faroe Islands trip) drag while the ending is so ridiculous and overblown that for me it undermined the author’s aim. My two big issues with the plot were Laura’s lie (which any defence barrister should have undermined with cross-examination and questioning of the victim and which carry no real consequence) and Kit’s 2015 sections, which seem intended to build tension but ultimately only serve as filler. This is a shame because Laura’s sections were well crafted and I enjoyed the slow build up of her anxiety and fears and how she got to the point she’s at and Kelly’s depictions of eclipses and Kit’s interest in them are well written and evocative. Beth is also an interesting character with Kelly giving her an intensity that justifies Laura’s doubts but it’s a shame that Balcome is not given the same nuance and depth. Ultimately although this book didn’t quite work for me I would definitely check out Kelly’s other work.

HE SAID/SHE SAID will be released in the United Kingdom on 20th April 2017. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

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