Published By: Simon and Schuster
Released On: 22/06/2023
Wade Darling stands accused of killing his wife and teenage children as they slept before burning the family home to the ground.
When the case lands on barrister Neve Harper’s desk, she knows it could be the career making case she’s been waiting for. But only if she can prove Wade’s innocence.
A matter of days before the case, as Neve is travelling home for the night, she is approached by a man. He tells her she must lose this case or the secret about her own husband’s disappearance will be revealed.
Failing that, he will kill everyone she cares about until she follows orders.
Neve must make a choice – betray every principle she has ever had by putting a potentially innocent man in prison, or risk putting those she loves in mortal danger.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
Whilst there are similarities with his previous book Do No Harm (which I’ll get on to later), I felt they were quite different in their approach. Whereas Do No Harm was full of action, go go go from the start, a lot of this is talk, is thoughts, is about building that suspense. Which is completely not what I thought I would be getting from this book, but I like that he’s shown two different plot styles.
It is a book that asks a lot of difficult questions. Would you put your life above someone else’s? Not many people have to ponder that, but if you’re in a position of trust – a doctor or a lawyer for instance – then you’re meant to do the right thing above anything else, even if it is your life on the line. And so I liked that dilemma. It is very similar to Do No Harm in regards to those moral questions, and I’m here for it.
There is a lot of court scenes, full of legal terms and whatnot. This had the possibility of being quite boring and long. And I was worried he would step into the wrong side of that line, but he’s managed to restrain himself. It’s exacting, but entertaining.
There are a lot of characters in it, some who are in it for the whole book, and some that dip in and out. It may, at first, feel like you’re going to lose track of them, you get just enough action from them to stick in your mind but not to overwhelm. I won’t go into too much detail as we‘lol be here forever, but my thoughts on a couple of them are as follows.
We have the main character of Neve, who is out on this case that has the potential to blow her career up. She’s grieving and is lost and confused and has her morals brought into question when her safety, and others, is threatened. And then you have Wade, her client. Charged with the deaths of his wife and two children, he is a shell of a man, and you can never be completely sure whether he is innocent or guilty. He feels like the most human character out of all of them. Marvellous character creation.
There are likeable characters and unlikeable characters, but he’s written them in such a way that it’s almost like you’re on everyone’s side. Whilst some may be more “good” than others, this shows that not everyone is 100% good or 100% bad, we’ve all got our breaking points.
Where I think he has excelled is in worming all the stories together. There’s the main story, obviously, but there are all these other little stories going through it and they fit really well, and keep you on your toes. When you think you’ve settled into one and figured it out, another comes along and you’re back to square one. Twists and turns and you just can’t think how it’s going to end. He keeps the suspense going right to the shocking finale.
Now, I know this is only the second book I’ve read of his, but I feel he’s really got the genre of moral thriller down to a T, and I’d love to see what he’s got planned for the future. Like I go to Laura Purcell for gothic thrillers, Jessica Redland for happily-ever-afters, and Raynor Winn or Robin Ince for nonfiction, Jack is another go-to author when I’m after a particular type of story.
It’s called Conviction, and whilst we assume – quite rightly – that we’re talking about the conviction of Wade, there are others it could be alluding to.
As a personal note, I prefer character development over plot, and whilst this was full on plot, there wasn’t as much character development as I would have liked, but I’m aware a lot of people will have the opposite opinion.
It’s so well written and constructed and thought out, and very impressive. I read an early digital copy but I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a physical copy.